Mt. Adams Institute (MAI) staff headed to Washington, D.C. last week to raise awareness about Veterans Environmental Transitions (VET), its new AmeriCorps internship program that is being developed for Military Veterans.
VET is designed to help returning Veterans transition to careers in natural resources management. Why are we focusing on Veterans? Check this out: In May of 2012, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the national unemployment rate rose to 8.2%. However, the unemployment rate for young veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan rose to 12.7%, over four percentage points higher than the national average. And these stats aren’t unique to that month; they are indicative of a growing problem the country has been facing as Veterans return from war and attempt to re-assimilate to civilian life.
That’s where the MAI comes in. In January of 2014 we plan to place 25 Veterans in internships with state and federal land management agencies throughout the Northwest. These internships will expose Veterans to the various types of work the agencies do while giving both groups, the agencies and the Veterans, the support they need to be successful. While in these positions, Veterans will help address public lands issues and recruit community volunteers.
The program is being designed to address several barriers that are affecting Veterans’ successful re-entry into the civilian world. One issue employers and Veterans face are the cultural differences between the military and the civilian workplace: the chain of command can be different, the sense of camaraderie among coworkers varies and even the language can be dissimilar. VET program staff will focus on educating Veterans and the agencies they serve about these differences and will help them bridge the differences through trainings and on-the-ground support.
In addition to their internship, VET program participants will meet monthly to attend natural resources management courses at a local college. This educational component is designed to prepare Veterans for the new Federal Pathways Program — an employment path for students and recent graduates interested in jobs with federal agencies. It also will engage or re-engage them in the process of working towards a college diploma; the lack of which is an additional obstacle to employment.
We are excited about the program and made significant progress as we met with our states’ staff representatives: Murray, Cantwell and Wyden, agencies staffs: BLM, Forest Service, Department of Interior and Veterans Benefits Administration and our AmeriCorps program staff.
If you would like to learn more about the program or would like to support our efforts through a donation, contact us through our new website – www.mtadamsinstitute.com.