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Disabled Veterans Affirmative Action Program

Presented by Billy W. Wright, U.S. Department of Veterans Affars (VA) at the HHS and FDA Virtual Hiring Event, Nov. 3. 2011

I’m Billy Wright, Program Manager for the Disabled Veterans Affirmative Action Program at the Department of Veteran Affairs.  We’re very happy to be part of this event today.  Prior to coming to the Department of Veteran Affairs, I headed the Veterans Initiatives for the Ticketed Work Program, a program under the Social Security Administration.  I also was director of the veterans' initiatives for a program under the Department of Labor, Office of Disability Employment Policy. 

Now both of these programs I helped many many thousands of veterans find jobs by connecting them with employers nationwide.  And these employers showed interest in hiring our veterans.  I served the United States Marine Corp and once again, I’m very very happy to be part of this event and have an opportunity to talk to you and represent VA.  This is a good time right now; we have President Obama’s executive orders which requires all agencies to develop strategic plans for hiring veterans and people with disabilities. 

VA’s Veteran Employment Initiative, positioning VA as a world class organization for recruiting and retaining veterans.  There’s a couple of things we want to do with that.  We want to achieve the secretary’s 40% veteran employment goal; we also want to reduce unemployment for OEF and OIF veterans.  We want to strengthen the way we serve veterans by employing more veterans.  We want to support President Obama’s executive orders to increase federal hiring of veterans and we want to play an integral part of one of the secretary’s 16 major initiatives, HCIP transforming human capital.

VA for vets is a comprehensive career development program that helps veterans launch or advance their civilian career at VA.  We have career centers where veterans can translate military skills to civilian work, create resumes and apply for open positions at the VA.  We also have coaches where you can contact for help with employment and re-integration issues and questions about VA careers, employment and life cycle resources; we have webinars and videos where you can learn about the skills that veterans bring to the workforce and how to support them.  We have virtual collaboration tools where you can interact with a coach, supervisor or HR professional.  For more information about VA for Vets you can visit www.vaforvets.va.gov

That’s www.vaforvets.va.gov.  Department of Veteran Affairs also has vocational and rehabilitation and employment program.  For that, veterans must have or eventually receive an honorable or other than honorable discharge.  They must also have a VA service connected disability rating at 10% or more.  And of course you have to apply for vocational and rehab services.  There’s information on that, you can visit www.vba.va.gov.  These counselors will take you through basically the 5 tracks of employment. 

The first one will be re-employment with your previous employer.  The next one will be rapid access, that’s a direct job placement services for veterans who are ready to start the ball rolling as soon as they get out and go straight into the workforce.  There’s self-employment for veterans that want to start their own business, employment through long term services for veterans that want to go back to school, get their education that will help them get the job that they want and independent living services, and once again for VRE.  For more information please visit www.vba.va.gov. Many service men and women don’t know what to do. 

I understand it, been there myself when I first got out.  What can VA do for you?  Definitely we’re talking opportunity, there’s nothing like it. If I would have had my chance or opportunity to work in the federal government, I would have never know what it would have been like, what it would be like to be a home owner.  I would have never met my wife. I met my wife at work.  And even the way my family members looked at me.  Once I started working everyone seemed to be happy.  I was happy and I think my family members were happy for me.  I served my country, came out and landed a job, just did so much for the way my family members looked at me, so it was a life changing experience.  They helped me move along and that’s what going to happen for you. 

How does VA help me with federal employment opportunities?  Well, we do have counselors, we have 13 locations throughout the country that have regional veteran employment coordinators that can assist you with career counseling, preparing your resume and just information resources within the full range of disability employment topics and career advice for working in the VA and throughout other agencies as well.  I know many of you are probably wondering even with this event today, why you should be attending this event with HHS and FDA. 

The power of networking can do so much for you.  After attending this event you’ll get an opportunity to meet folks, veterans such as myself that are really willing to do and help you transition and land that job that you want and start your meaningful careers.  Theirs no one I can think of that actually did it on their own.  If it wasn’t for others that helped me I know I wouldn’t have never made it and that’s what we want to do is be able to give back.  You were leaders while you were in the military, you have a lot to give, a lot to offer and we look forward to working with you so you can continue to be leaders in the civilian world. 

So we at the VA, we are very thankful for having this opportunity to speak with you and to participate in this event.  Please shoot me an email, this is what I do.  I am the Affirmative Action Program Manager.  You can email me at billy.wright@va.gov.  Please give me an email, shoot me an email.  I look forward to working with you.  We want to get you out here and working for the VA as well as all the other agencies.  Thank you very much.