LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Mayor Eric Garcetti has unveiled a citywide hiring initiative that seeks to employ 10,000 Southland veterans by 2017.
The "10,000 Strong" Veterans Hiring Initiative is part of a broader national effort from several cities and government agencies who aim to hire thousands of vets as they move out of their military service and back into civilian life.
As part of the initiative, the City of Los Angeles will join some of the world's biggest corporations like General Electric and Starbucks, which last November announced a multi-year hiring and career development strategy for veterans and military spouses.
KNX 1070's Pete Demetriou reports the "10,000 Strong" initiative is led by a coalition of over 100 companies and 40 public sector partners.
Garcetti Initiative Aimed At Hiring 10,000 Veterans In LA By 2017
Garcetti said the $9 million campaign is the best way to show gratitude to those who have served their country.
"As these troops return home they need more than a smile and a hug," said Garcetti. "They need housing, they need jobs, they need full integration back into civilian life."
City Worksource Centers and other agencies including the California State Employment Development Department, the Veterans Administration, the U.S. Department of Labor's Veterans Employment and Training Service, and the Los Angeles County Worksource Centers will connect veterans to over 100 employer partners who have offered to hire veterans over the next three years.
The hiring push comes as the national unemployment rate for veterans who have served since 2001 hit a staggering 21.4 percent for younger vets aged 18-24, compared to the national rate of 7 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
KCAL9's Kristine Lazar spoke with Erwin Gregorio, a 29-year-old Marine veteran born and raised in Long Beach who now lives in Hollywood who says that for for more than two years he has only had a handfull of odd jobs. And though he is college educated, they have mostly been manual labor.
"It seems like there's a stigma out there. I definitely feel like I'm in a lower class ever since I left," he said.
Gregorio is hopeful, however, about the promise of the initiative.
"I think it'll give us as veterans a fighting chance, motivation to keep looking and aim higher," he said.
Mayor Garcetti's remarks followed on the heels of results of a new audit by the Department of Veterans Affairs that found that veterans wait up to 56 days for their first appointment through the VA's Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System.
"It's unacceptable to have those sorts of wait times," he said.
VA guidelines say veterans should be seen within 14 days of their desired date for a primary care appointment. The department now says that meeting that target was unattainable given existing resources and growing demand.
The findings are part of a national audit ordered after a whistleblower claimed veterans were dying while waiting for care in Phoenix.
(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
for more features.