Assisting veterans on a path to employment

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The sun hadn’t yet risen by 6:30 a.m. Oct. 24 when the CareerSource Suncoast mobile pulled into the fairgrounds parking lot. The temperature was a comfortable 70 as the tents went up and the Salvation Army cooked breakfast. More than 25 people were already lined up at the gates waiting for the 2015 Manatee County Stand Down to begin at 8 a.m.

Now in its 15th year, the Stand Down is a lifesaver for the homeless veterans in our community and others seeking much needed stabilizing services. Federal grant dollars help provide backpacks, clothes and other necessities for these veterans.

CareerSource Suncoast knows all too well the struggle many veterans face. We have dedicated career advisors strictly for veterans like those who attended the Stand Down: low income, homeless, disabled, recently separated or Wounded Warriors. In the last three months, CareerSource Suncoast has seen more than 400 veterans in our career centers and 52 have had a significant barrier, such as homelessness, to employment. Working with our partners such as Goodwill Manasota, JFCS and the Vet Center, who all participated in last week’s Stand Down, our veterans career advisors try to objectively assess the veterans situation, refer to service agencies like Salvation Army, Turning Points and Centerstone, and then craft an employment plan with the veteran.

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