Operation PAVE Counselors Meet to Discuss Strategies for Veterans Employment

Sherman Gillums, associate executive director for PVA Veterans Benefits DepartmentRegional counselors for Operation PAVE (Paving Access for Veterans Employment), the vocational rehabilitation program of Paralyzed Veterans of America, met for a two-day training and refresher conference Oct. 15–16, 2012, with outcomes including a strategy to achieve “30 hires in 90 days” as well as highlight an integrated  model for delivering veteran services.

A main focus area during the meeting was improving employer outreach efforts, according to Sherman Gillums, associate executive director for Paralyzed Veterans’ Veterans Benefits Department (VBD), “with an emphasis on attaining employment within the federal government.”

“We have a good number of veterans who served in OEF/OIF (Operations Enduring Freedom/Iraqi Freedom) who also have college degrees or certifications. We believe the federal government offers great opportunities for these highly marketable veterans” Gillums said.

In addition to the list of veterans with secondary education, the PAVE team reviewed more than 60 résumés obtained during a recent career fair held in Tampa, Fla., earlier this month. The résumés were screened for potential matchmaking with government agencies and private sector companies looking to hire veterans. These activities were part of a newly launched effort to get 30 veterans hired in 90 days, or the “30 in 90” campaign.

The effort builds on Paralyzed Veterans of America’s push to mainstream an innovative approach to reintegrate veterans facing employment challenges, called “Veteran-based Supported Employment.” This unconventional model of vocational intervention integrates the efforts of PAVE counselors with service officers and hospital-based benefits advocates around the country, who were also represented at the conference by Paralyzed Veterans’ region directors of field services nationwide.

Explained Gillums, “A job is but one aspect of a veteran’s full social reintegration after leaving service. Sometimes, helping a veteran resolve clinical issues or obtain VA benefits allows that veteran to focus on higher-order needs, like a good career. Our PAVE program offers a customized, holistic, integrated approach that supports the veteran for life, hence our 'Partner For Life' commitment.”

Paralyzed Veterans has put forth a three-piece support model for serving veterans: benefits counseling (VA claims assistance, adaptive equipment, education counseling), health-care advocacy (clinical appeals, care conferences) and jobs (job search, mentoring, employer engagement). “This integrates all the services we offer our clients,” he said. “Paralyzed Veterans will be the leader behind this new approach to holistically supporting veterans.”

Among other noteworthy events during the conference was the recognition of a remarkable PAVE success story: 71-year-old Billy W. Bowens, a store associate at the Los Angeles Air Force Base Commissary, was named the Department of Commissary Agency’s (DECA) Disabled Employee of the Year. Bowens found employment with DECA with the assistant of Long Beach PAVE counselor, Joan Haskins.

PAVE services are available to any veteran seeking employment, training, or education. Contact a PAVE counselor in the following locations:

  • Paralyzed Veterans of America National Office (DC) – 202-416-7634
  • James Arndt (Minneapolis) – 612-629-7021
  • Susan Deguzman (Tampa) – 813-972-2000, ext: 5841
  • Joan Haskins (Long Beach) – 562-826-8000, ext. 4607
  • Roger Hickson (Augusta) – 706-733-0188, ext. 2875
  • Ken Lipton (Boston) – 857-203-6091
  • Cristina Mousel (Richmond) – 804-675-5155
  • Keisha Wright (San Antonio) – 210-699-5300, ext. 10148

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