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AmeriCorps Recruiting Our Nation’s Heroes

by John Gomperts

This post originally appeared on the White House blog on January 11, 2011.

As America's heroes return from war zones and transition back into civilian life, many are facing challenges finding work. Last month, more than over 857,000 veterans were unemployed, and the jobless rate for post-9/11 veterans is 13.1 percent.

As President Obama said, “We ask these men and women to leave their careers, leave their families, risk their lives to fight for our country. The last thing they should have to do is fight for a job when they come home.”

Recognizing the unique skills and leadership abilities of America's veterans, the Corporation for National and Community Service is joining forces to recruit more veterans to serve in AmeriCorps. Using the skills they honed overseas, veterans are continuing to serve on the home front through AmeriCorps - responding to disasters, building homes, mentoring at-risk youth, and supporting other veterans and their families.

As part of that commitment, we are excited to kick off our participation in 100 Hiring Our Heroes job fairs over the next five years. The first fair, focused on military and veteran spouses, will take place this Friday, January 13 in Washington D.C.

We will have information about opportunities to serve in AmeriCorps and other CNCS programs. We are pleased to work with Joining Forces, the Chamber Foundation, DOL Vets, and other organizations in supporting these career fairs and look forward to sharing our message that AmeriCorps is recruiting our nation's heroes now.

More than 16,000 veterans have served in AmeriCorps since its inception AmeriCorps helps put veterans on a pathway to economic opportunity as they assist others in the military community—and, in doing so, find strength in making an impact on problems here at home.

Interested in joining AmeriCorps? Here's a look at just a few programs that are recruiting veterans now:

  • Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA), the National Guard Bureau and CNCS recently announced a unique new AmeriCorps program called VetCorps to help returning veterans and their families access the critical services and support they need – ranging from social, mental and physical health services to housing and employment assistance.
  • The Iowa Green Veterans AmeriCorps (IGVA) program, based in the Iowa Department of Natural Resources will connect military veterans with meaningful employment opportunities in green jobs and the natural resources field through duties like assisting rural, low-income, and elderly residents identify and implement energy improvements, engage in disaster recovery efforts, and stewardship activities in Iowa state parks.
  • The Virginia Wounded Warrior Program of the Virginia Department of Veterans Services has formed a Veterans Corps program that will operate initially in the Tidewater region of Virginia, home to one of the largest concentrations of veterans in the United States. AmeriCorps members will assist other veterans and their families in navigating the resources and services that are available, but in many cases not known or out of reach for veterans and their families.
  • AmeriCorps and the St. Bernard Project in New Orleans recently launched Veterans Corps,which engages veterans in recovery construction work still going on six years later after Hurricane Katrina. The program also connects local veterans to one another for a support system to ease the transition back to civilian life

Like the Greatest Generation of World War II, the new generation of veterans coming home has a hunger to serve. A 2009 report by Civic Enterprises found that younger veterans are eager to continue serving, and that getting involved is likely to improve their transition home.

Chad Elbandagji, a Marine and Air Force veteran, recently joined Habitat for Humanity's AmeriCorps program in Los Angeles.He explains, “To me, there is no other group in the country that is more deserving of our support more than the brave men and women who risked it all for us.Veterans have a unique skill set that no other people have, one that comes with living a life of service.”

As we have been called by the First Lady and Dr. Biden, let us commit as a Nation not only to serving our veterans, but to creating opportunities for veterans to serve on a new front - the home front – meeting needs here in America.

Welcome home, we need you.

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