july 29, 2012

GI Go Fund Turns Kessler Foundation Grant into Jobs for Disabled Vets

$30,000 Grant program enables organization to find disabled Iraq and Afghanistan veterans full-time work

GI Go Fund Deputy Director Alex Manis addresses group of disabled veterans learning the skills that will enable them to become full time at-home customer service call center representatives for PSEG, thanks to a grant from the Kessler Foundation.

EDISON, NJ - The GI Go Fund, thanks to a $30,000 grant from the Kessler Foundation, has created the “Post 9/11 Disabled Veterans to Work” program that gives disabled veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan the opportunity to find full time employment through retraining.

The organization has utilized the Kessler Foundation grant to give injured post-9/11 veterans a chance for full time employment by providing retraining in various fields. One field where veterans have been connected to full time work is customer service, where the GI Go Fund, in partnership with PSE&G, retrained disabled vets to serve as full-time at-home customer service call representatives.

The grant was designed to guide disabled veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan looking for work in the customer service field, where employers are looking to bring their call center jobs back to the US in record numbers. The central purpose of the grant was to connect young, disabled veterans with employers looking to fill various computer-related positions with American workers after bringing the jobs back from overseas.

“We are very excited to be working with the Kessler Foundation on this project, as they have been so great in helping disabled individuals overcome their problems and achieve great things with their lives,” said GI Go Fund Executive Director Jack Fanous. “They have served as the critical component to the recovery of countless disabled individuals, and they will be instrumental in the assistance of our disabled veterans here as well.”

Unemployment among veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan is climbing at an alarming rate. As the national unemployment rate trended downwards last month, the rate among veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan rose exponentially, with disabled veterans facing an unemployment rate of 11.2%, three points higher than their civilian counterparts. This program is designed to bring these disabled veterans into quality, full time jobs they can perform that will help them provide for themselves and their families.

Once thought to be a job permanently lost to outsourcing, customer service jobs are beginning to return home at a high rate. Based primarily from customer complaints and a lack of significant savings from outsourcing, corporations are quickly learning that there is no substitute to having their customers’ complaints handled by the people who relate best to them.

PSE&G has discovered this and has created a first-of-its-kind program that will take veterans that come through the GI Go Fund’s grant project and work with them at their Training Facility for a 4-6 week period, teaching them the critical skills needed to field a wide range of calls during any given time in the day. After completing the paid training, the veterans will be set up to work from home, giving them an opportunity to work full time and earn enough money to provide for their loved ones.

“We are very glad to be able to hire so many veterans through such a unique program,” said PSE&G Call Center Manager Fred Daum. “We’re very proud to have this opportunity to work with The GI Go Fund and Convergent ERS to get these great men and women hired. We personally cannot believe that the veteran unemployment rate is so high, especially given the strong character and work ethic that the vets who we’re training have shown us already. So anything we can do to take a bite out of that high unemployment number, PSE&G is ready.”

The “Post 9/11 Disabled Veterans to Work” program has also expanded to assist disabled veterans in other employment fields, as now the program will connect veterans to be retrained in the technical field to find IT jobs. The new IT component of the program was established through a partnership with SetFocus, a company that has been retraining people for new employment fields since 1997. GI Go and SetFocus will work together in a program entitled “GI to IT”, which will connect unemployed veterans to the IT jobs that are coming back from overseas.

“We honor the sacrifices that have been made, both personally and professionally, by the men and women of the US Armed Services Forces to protect and sustain our beliefs and way of life”, noted SetFocus President Jerry Masin. “SetFocus is committed to the premise that economic viability is an outcome of learning, growth and job sustainability. GI to IT will assist Veterans to apply their diligence, dedication and ability to turn training into action toward seeking sustainable IT employment.”

“This program is a great opportunity to assist disabled veterans coming back home,” said Fanous. “We are proud of the partnerships we have forged to get these veterans hired in full time positions, and we look forward to what we can accomplish together in the future for our Post 9/11 veterans.”