By Bill Armstrong, NMVAHCS Public Affairs Specialist
Under the strain of a poor economy, many Veterans must endure the stresses of navigating the job-hunting jungle as they search for work or a course of study to enhance their resumes. Just finding out which job or education opportunities exist can be a daunting task, but Bruce Beltramo is carving out a shortcut through that jungle.
Beltramo, a vocational rehabilitation specialist for the New Mexico VA Health Care System (NMVAHCS), helped create “Veterans Connections” five years ago. This monthly program for Veterans has blossomed into a multi-resource event at the Raymond G. Murphy VA Medical Center in Albuquerque. Veterans Connections allows job seekers to meet face to face with representatives from numerous agencies, including the state’s Department of Workforce Solutions, the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, Central New Mexico Community College, the University of New Mexico, the City of Albuquerque’s Office of Veterans’ Affairs, and the Albuquerque Chapter of SCORE (Senior Core of Retired Executives).
“These providers come in talk about what resources they have to help Veterans,” Beltramo said. “It could be everything from resume writing to linking them up to other agencies that might be able to help them go to school or go to work. It’s worked out quite well.”
Adding the expertise and assistance from other agencies to information and assistance the VA already offers has made the monthly gathering a treasure chest for Veterans needing help.
“They helped open several doors for us, as far as not only employment, but they provide resources such as resume development,” he said. “There are Veterans Services at both schools that we work with. So, Veterans Connections has become a secondary resource to the general community of a wider network of resources that are out there.”
When Beltramo first started Veterans Connections, his intent was focused on getting Veterans from “point A to point B.”
“Point A being maybe you’re not satisfied where things are going with your life as far as work or education. Ultimately, employment is the end game. This group helps fit that in the middle,” he said. “It tells them who is out there to help you brainstorm, what you could do, or what process is available to you. This group was created to give Veterans some options. There is a wealth of community providers out there.”
Instead of a scheduled appointment, Veterans are encouraged to simply show up. Veterans Connections meets from 3-4 p.m. the last Monday of each month in the Education Building at the Raymond G. Murphy VA Medical Center, 1501 San Pedro Dr. SE, Albuquerque.