ROCKVILLE, MD – A new initiative from Goodwill Industries International will expand the organization’s job training, placement and employment services programs to thousands of American veterans, as well as their spouses and families. The Goodwill® for America’s Heroes and Their Families program comes in response to an urgent call from First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden asking all Americans to do more to help serve the nation’s military families. Today, they will launch a national initiative at the White House to support and honor America’s service members and their families. The initiative will coincide with Goodwill’s fifth annual Advocacy Day, in which more than 175 representatives from Goodwill® including CEOs, workforce professionals, volunteer board members, and program participants will gather on Capitol Hill to urge Congress to invest in the American workforce through federal job training programs.
With many service men and women returning to duty in Iraq and Afghanistan for multiple deployments, today’s military families are stretched thinner than ever before, and the success of many of these families largely depends on the ability of military spouses to find employment on the home front. President Obama recently recognized this crucial need when he said, “The readiness of our armed forces depends on the readiness of our military families.”
In January, the President announced a major presidential initiative focused on strengthening military families. One of the major prongs of the initiative is developing career opportunities for military spouses. Building on this momentum, First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden are launching the initiative designed to encourage individual citizens and communities to make this same commitment and aim to educate, challenge and spark action from all sectors of our society — citizens, communities, businesses, nonprofits, faith based institutions, philanthropic organizations, and government — to ensure military families have the support they have earned. For example, they encourage businesses to hire military spouses even if they know those individuals might move on in a few years.
Goodwill is proud to be one of the first organizations to respond to this call by launching Goodwill for America’s Heroes and Their Families. Through its unique social enterprise business model, Goodwill raises money from items sold at its more than 2,500 retail stores and uses the revenues to fund job training, employment placement services and other community-based programs that help people become self-sufficient through the power of work. The organization also employs many of these people at its retail stores around the country. For nearly a century, Goodwill has made America’s veterans a focus of these programs, serving more than 25,000 veterans in 2010 alone. This year, the organization will continue to serve veterans while also expanding employment services to military spouses and families.
“Since World War I, Goodwill has helped America’s veterans find employment at home,” said Jim Gibbons, president and CEO of Goodwill Industries International. “Now, with military members returning to Afghanistan and Iraq for multiple deployments, we’re extending this mission to their spouses and families, because we know that helping them find jobs is crucial to the success of these families and the communities where they live.”
In 2011, Goodwill expects to hire more than 5,000 people and has targeted 1,300 (more than 20 percent) of these positions for military spouses, veterans and their families. Goodwill agencies around the country expect to provide face-to-face career and family strengthening services to more than 15,000 military spouses, veterans and their families, and are also prepared to provide virtual career services that can be linked to military web sites, expanding these services to tens of thousands more people.
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