VA recently completed the Veterans Economic Communities Initiative (VECI) pilot program. The program’s goal was to test various initiatives, at the community level, to support the economic success of Veterans and their families. The pilot was informed by key economic data at national and local levels.
VECI was piloted out of concern that many Veterans were unaware of the program and services offered by VA. By working with established community groups, VA was able to expand its outreach and create new ambassadors to reach Veterans and their families at the local level.
The pilot was conducted in 25 communities that reach about 30-percent of the Veteran population. By focusing on existing resources available in the community, VECI initiatives were able to build public-private partnerships to focus on education, training and creating jobs for Veterans.
Some of the key results were:
- Assisting with training and provided information on VA programs to 160,000 people representing hundreds of community service organizations
- Developing formal no-cost public-private partnerships resulting in more than $1 billion in available support to Veterans and their families
- Contacting employers through Vets.gov, the Veterans Employment Center, and similar online programs. Small and large businesses committed to hire more than one million Veterans
- Promoting the value of GI Bill apprenticeship programs and provided 160 employers with information needed to set up their own apprenticeship programs.
- Developing and launching 25 Veterans community learning hubs to help Veterans and their families increase their skills and knowledge through no-cost online courses that provided certification credentials from leading U.S. schools.
These activities strengthened the network of support for Veterans and their families in each pilot community, aligned local efforts with national VA programs, and provided VA with critical insight into local best-practices and economic opportunities for Veterans.
Innovative pilots like VECI allow VA to better inform Veterans, their families and communities about available services and programs. No-cost public-private partnerships are a force multiplier to provide resources and to support the economic success of Veterans and their families.
For more information about the VECI pilot and data used to support community efforts, click here to read the full report.
Rosye Cloud is the Senior Advisor for Veteran Employment at Veterans Benefits Administration. She has more than 20 years experience as a social services and health care advocate for military members, Veterans, and their family members. She works to provide innovative public policy solutions that improve the social and economic mobility of our Veteran community.