National Press Club

Goodwill to help 3,000 women vets to find jobs

June 25, 2013 | By Monica Coleman | mcoleman@insidecapitolhill.net

Goodwill Industries will help 3,000 female vets nationwide find jobs over the next two years, Goodwill President and CEO Jim Gibbons said Thursday, June 25 at a National Press Club Newsmaker media event.

The move expands a program developed in 2012 and encouraged by First Lady Michelle Obama and Jill Biden to hire 1,800 veterans, Gibbons said.

Goodwill has the capacity to take the program "to the next level" by assisting nearly double that number get the training and connections they need to be successful, Gibbons said.

In 2010, Goodwill published “Deployment to Employment,” a report that explored veterans' needs and what Goodwill could do to help, Gibbons said. The following year, Goodwill introduced “At Work,” a program focused on strengthening Goodwill’s capacity to engage in collaboration and partnerships within communities to develop veteran-specific programs around the country, Gibbons said.

Juanita Williams, a panelist who spoke at the event, is one of the veterans who found success through Goodwill programs.

Williams served in the Navy from 2001 through 2009. She said she was sexually abused and seriously injured during her service, which resulted in her discharge.

“I got out with a security clearance, a bachelors in Business Administration, but a job was just not happening,” Williams said.

A friend introduced Williams to “Operation Good Job” and through the program she became an ophthalmology assistant, Williams said. The program helped her with childcare, dress, interviewing techniques, writing, preparing for the interview and providing employment connections.

“When you think of Goodwill, you think of the store," she said. "I would never have dreamed that they had this. It was good, it was very good."

Panelist Keith Kelly, assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), Division of Veterans Employment and Training Services, said the Labor Department supports Goodwill's efforts and says the women veterans need additional support to return to the workforce.

Women comprise 14.6% of the active force and 18% of the National Guard and Reserves. There are 2.2 million female veterans. Their unemployment rate is higher than non-military women, Kelly said.