More than 240,500 veterans reside in San Diego County, making us the third highest population of veterans in the United States and the number one destination for veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet, here and elsewhere, veterans continue to experience significant challenges transitioning from the battlefield to civilian life in the workforce.
The San Diego Workforce Partnership (SDWP) and Zero8Hundred — a local community-based nonprofit organization that specializes in a continuum of care for transitioning veterans by offering services before release within military installations and within the community after release — were recently awarded $150,000 from the California Workforce Investment Board and the Labor and Workforce Development Agency’s Workforce Acceleration Fund to help address transition in a new idea called the Veteran’s Individual Placement and Support Project (“VIPS Project”).
SDWP oversees a network of 15 America’s Job Centers of California (AJCCs) that serve 20,000 unique visitors annually across the county. While SDWP is looked to as the regional expert in workforce development, many veterans require a more time-intensive, holistic approach involving personalized attention and “wraparound services” — services developed collaboratively by a team of individuals relevant to the well-being of veterans.
Zero8Hundred does exactly that, serving transitioning veterans and their families by providing strong programs in supportive services, health care, counseling, housing, education and other basic needs. While Zero8Hundred customers are currently generally referred to the AJCC network, many veterans never make it through the doors or are unclear on how to access the employment and job training services available.
VIPS Project will address these challenges and offer concurrent employment and veterans services through the support of AJCC staff and Zero8Hundred at one of San Diego’s largest military installations, Camp Pendleton. VIPS will support Marines several months before they are discharged to prepare them for their transition and reduce the amount of time they must wait to receive AJCC services and find employment after discharge.
The program will use the Individual Placement and Support (IPS) model, a nationally recognized integrative vocational rehab approach. A key provision of IPS is that the best indicator of workplace success is personal motivation, as opposed to training and credentials. Based on this idea, veterans choose the industry and the job that they would like to pursue, which increases their motivation during the job application process.
“Instead of asking transitioning veterans to come to us, we are excited to bring job training and employment services and support to them on base at Camp Pendleton,” says SDWP VP and Chief Programs Officer Andy Hall, who worked with Dr. Elizabeth Twamley, Professor of Psychiatry at University of California, San Diego, and Sean Mahoney, Executive Director of Zero8Hundred, on this grant.
IPS will be administered by a team consisting of an AJCC employment specialist and a Zero8Hundred case manager to provide each Marine wraparound services tailored to the individual. They will continue to work with the client until he or she makes the decision to exit the program. Up to that point, the IPS team will provide follow-up services, offering job support even after the veteran is employed to ensure that they retain their jobs and that their families feel stable.