Goodwill Manasota launches veteran job initiative

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SARASOTA - New numbers show that in December, the unemployment rate for vets reached 7%, up from 6.3% in October.  That is the highest rate since July 2012.

The news is even worse for those who served in Iraq and Afghanistan as 10.8% of them can't find work.  But throughout the state, and right here on the Suncoast, some are working to turn that around.

John Saputo, the president of Gold Coast Eagle Distributing and a USMCR veteran, knows how hard it is for veterans to find jobs once they return from duty.

"You're coming back to your home town, you probably been in another state or overseas and you lost all your connections," said Saputo.

So Colonel Saputo makes it a priority to give those men and women the help they need to get back on track.

"We know that you are mission oriented, that you'll get the job done.  we know that a veteran can pass our drug tests that we have like we do have over here at Anheuser-Busch we know that you are responsible individuals with equipment and your time.  and we know that you will succeed," Saputo said.

He adds it is those traits that are crucial to get back to work in the civilian world.

"This young man had experience in Africa, in Iraq, in Afghanistan," Saputo said.  "He has been here less than 6 months and he has climbed up the ladder so quickly."

But while there are some employers eager to assist those who have served our country, for others  not so much.

"Employers were nervous in hiring returning veterans because of post traumatic stress or any kind of liability," said Veronica Brandon Miller, vice president of the foundation for Goodwill Manasota.

Brandon Miller said that's why Goodwill Manasota created an initiative to assist returning veterans facing heightened risks of unemployment, personal problems, and homelessness.

"Our goal is helping returning veterans and their families become stable," Brandon Miller said.  "Stable with a paycheck, employment, job skills, whatever they need to make them more employable and again, have the dignity of a paycheck."

She added the plan includes hiring veterans to work with other vets and adding comprehensive case management and vocational services that address any barriers veterans face.  They also want to navigate the confusing array of available programs.

"This veteran is actually helping veterans understand what they might need so they can become employable or just hiring them," Brandon Miller said.

More information on Goodwill Manasota

Colonel Saputo also suggests that veterans contact their local Chamber of Commerce for possible job openings.

Charlotte County Chamber

Manatee County Chamber

Sarasota County Chamber