$4.3M Grant Aims to Help Soldiers Entering Civilian Workforce

A $4.3 million federal grant will go towards programs to help members of the military enter the civilian workforce, Anne Arundel county officials announced Tuesday.

The National Dislocated Worker Grant from the U.S. Department of Labor will be targeted at reducing unemployment among those discharged from the military. The money will benefit service members moving to civilian work from Fort George G. Meade, Joint Base Andrews in Prince George’s County, Naval Air Station Patuxent River, and Aberdeen Proving Ground.

From the Capital Gazette,

County Executive Steve Schuh said the unemployment rate among Maryland’s veterans is the highest in the country.

“The unemployment rate for a female active-duty spouse is 32 percent and the unemployment rate for a female veteran spouse is 22 percent,” Schuh said.

The national unemployment rate was 4.9 percent as of October, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“No one who has fought for our freedom, for this nation’s freedom, should have trouble finding employment after his or her mission is complete with the United States armed forces,” Schuh said. “But the statistics are rather disturbing.”

Kirkland Murray, CEO of Anne Arundel Workforce Development Corp., said the grant will go toward initiatives including résumé-writing and skills-building classes.

The funding “will not only help veterans transition, but make sure that they have the skills that businesses are (looking) for, make sure that they have the résumé that can communicate the skills they’ve gained in the military,” Murray said.

He said the grant will facilitate on-the-job training, apprenticeships and internships. Most of the money will go toward “direct services,” with some new hires to oversee the initiative, Murray said.

Fort Meade’s newest garrison commander, Col. Thomas Rickard, said his wife retired after more than two decades of military service. But she is married to someone still on active duty “and so, when that happens and you move around, generally one of the spouses has to make a decision to allow one to move on in a career path,” Rickard said.

“So what I know from personal experience is that sometimes the spouse has to look for work … wherever they can find it, while the service member continues on progressing in a career field.”

The program will provide services to 730 service members over the course of the two-year grant funding, starting in January.

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