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Veterans to be trained for green jobs under U.S. program

Seventeen groups nationwide, including the Long Beach office of United States Veterans Initiative -- which will receive $500,000 -- have been awarded grants to train and find jobs for veterans.

July 02, 2009|Sherine El Madany

A veterans outreach organization in Long Beach was named one of 17 groups nationwide Wednesday to receive a share of $7.5 million to train veterans for green jobs.

Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis announced the agency grants to provide about 3,000 veterans with training and employment in green jobs. In California, the Long Beach site will get $500,000 to train more than 100 veterans in Los Angeles County and find work for them. An additional $300,000 will aid 75 veterans in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The Long Beach office of the United States Veterans Initiative will get the $500,000 grant. In the Bay Area, the $300,000 went to another nonprofit group, Swords to Plowshares.

"Our goal is to work with 133 veterans, and [we] hope to provide employment placement to 75%, or about 100 veterans," said Greg McCormack, Long Beach director of United States Veterans Initiative.

Established in 1992, the Los Angeles-based organization mainly addresses needs of homeless and at-risk veterans. McCormack said the group's Inglewood office would also participate.

Other states where grants were awarded include Texas, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Indiana and Arizona.

"This grant will provide our veterans with tools and skills that will ensure they are certified and trained in green jobs," Solis said.

Green jobs have recently been the buzzword among U.S. policymakers who say they could be one way to reduce unemployment and greenhouse gas emissions.

Participating veterans will be trained for jobs including residential and commercial solar energy system installation, solar water heater repair, solar energy roofing, and solid waste and wastewater treatment.

California reported a record unemployment rate of 11.5% in May. The state Employment Development Department said Wednesday that the unemployment rate for veterans in the same month was 7%, up from 4.5% a year earlier.

"We are seeing more and more veterans who have been out of work and have become recently homeless due to market problems and layoffs," McCormack said. "Each year at our site we helped 150 veterans get back to work for the last eight years. But this year we are helping 100 veterans get back to work."

McCormack said the grant would help his organization train veterans whose skills were no longer in demand.

The grants are being awarded under the Labor Department's Veterans' Workforce Investment Program.

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sherine.elmadany @latimes.com

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