Today it's critical for our returning troops and veterans to get good jobs and to utilize their experience in military service to make the significant contributions they can. Likewise for military spouses. But as important as getting a job is, I'm not sure we take the time to consider the factors that support finding, getting, and keeping a job: Being successful on the job. Enjoying and growing with the job. Making the most of one's potential in the workforce. What are the conditions and services that support this wider view of workforce and employment development? What does an integrative approach to veteran employment look like? Why does it matter? Aren't the hard numbers regarding training, placement and retention all that are important?
Most of us know that things are interconnected, but we forget. The song Dry Bones presents those famous lyrics: "The ankle bone connected to the shin bone, The shin bone connected to the knee bone, The knee bone connected to the thigh bone, The thigh bone connected to the hip bone, the hip bone connected to the back bone, The back bone connected to the shoulder bone, The shoulder bone connected to the neck bone, The neck bone connected to the head bone."
Then comes a line I'd forgotten: "Them bones got up and the walked around." There's a whole person there! But how easy it all gets lost amidst the silo-based employment, housing, mental health, resilience, reintegration, transition assistance, financial, legal, benefits and other services.
Now "one stop" service centers are an up-and-coming model. User-friendly, holistic career development, and employment support and education should be part and parcel of workforce development. In a recent study of thousands of reintegration programs, the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and TBI, (DCoE), mandated by Congress to study, identify and disseminate best practices, identified eight. The Coming Home Project was the only reintegration program that met the DCoE's core criteria - integrating psychological, behavioral, social-family, and spiritual dimensions - while also having significant research data to demonstrate effectiveness.
The study also recommended completely revamping transition assistance programs and addressing multiple elements in one setting. Yes, employment, benefits, housing, education and mental health, but also wellness, resilience and family support. And I would add peer support (not simply peer counseling). DCoE valued programs, like Coming Home Project, that welcomed service members, veterans and families, together under one roof, and members of all military branches, at varying stages of deployment.
The Coming Home Project is a finalist in WILL Interactive's "Simulate a Better World Challenge." WILL Interactive has developed a uniquely successful training tool where users become the lead character in an interactive movie simulation. If we win, WILL and Coming Home plan to hone this proven technology to create a powerful, state-of-the-art interactive learning platform to assist veterans find jobs and employers find, connect effectively with, and hire them. As the only veteran services organization among the four finalists, we need your vote in order to develop this leading-edge veteran employment training and support tool to integrate into our nationally recognized whole-person focused reintegration programs. All it takes is one vote a day.
To vote, simply click here and select "Veteran Transition and Reintegration into the Workforce - Coming Home Project," then click "Submit."