TUCSON, Ariz. — Helping veterans who need a little extra help with employment. The Arizona Department of Veterans' Services has a toolkit program that provides services to help veterans land a job, or to help them get the supplies they need to start a job.
In asking unemployed veterans what more Veterans' Services can do to help, a common trend was needing help in getting back to work.
"One hurdle that they had to get over was, a lot of veterans just didn't have the appropriate tools, equipment, clothing, transportation that they needed to get that job that they wanted," said Gary Ochoa, the southern region manager for the Arizona Department of Veteran Services.
The AZ Department of Veteran's Services reported 62-percent of those surveyed agreed if they had the tools they needed, they could start their jobs immediately. So the department created the toolkit program.
"What we did is we started a pilot program, called the Toolkit Program, where we would step in and be able to provide them with some monies to be able to purchase those items. They're not actually getting the money, we purchase the items and give it to them. And we saw that we were successful in that pilot program, where over 200 veterans were actually able to use this program and get into work during that pilot year," said Ochoa.
The numbers for 2018 are still unknown. But Ochoa said the department's goal is to have at least 20 veterans per week taken care of and into jobs. When it comes to supplies that are needed, those can range anywhere from steel toed boots, to uniforms, transportation, or tools.
"The feedback that we're getting from veterans is that they're grateful, for one, that they're employed, but that they got the assistance that they needed to get them back to work. But another nice aspect of it is by contacting our department and or friends at DVS, they find out that they're eligible for more benefits," said Ochoa.
The criteria: the veteran must live in Arizona, work with an Arizona workforce specialist, and identify the job and what supplies they need. For information on how to get involved with this program, visit https://dvs.az.gov/advs-veteran-toolkit-program or call (602) 255-3373.