Each November, we honor the service and sacrifice of our veterans for good reason: those who served in uniform — and their families — have kept our nation free.
It takes more, though, than saying “thank you” to truly honor our veterans. It takes offering a helping hand to those who need it — and many veterans need our help. Thirteen percent of homeless Americans are military veterans, and those who returned from the wars of the last decade struggle to find work. The unemployment rate among post-9/11 veterans is 38 percent higher than the national unemployment rate.
Since taking office as mayor, I’ve worked to make sure Phoenix is doing its part through two important initiatives.
The first seeks to end chronic homelessness among veterans because no person who has served our nation in uniform should ever be without a safe and secure place to call home.
To tackle the problem, we’ve developed a simple model: help homeless veterans find permanent housing first, connect them with the right support services, and then assist those who are able find a job.
By working with shelters, nonprofit organizations, the private sector and faith community, we have accomplished astounding results: in just the last year, we placed 60 percent of our community’s chronically homeless veterans in permanent housing.
In February, when the Arizona StandDown event — the state’s largest, singular outreach event for homeless veterans — takes place, Phoenix is likely to become the first city in the nation to completely end chronic homelessness among veterans.
Through the second initiative — the H.E.R.O. Initiative — Phoenix is working to help veterans get on their feet with a new job.
Just a few weeks ago, we teamed up with community members and employers to organize our second H.E.R.O. hiring event. This event is more than a job fair; our partners work with veterans prior to the event to pre-match them with potential employers. And before the event, our team offers free workshops to assist with interview skills and resumes, including how to translate military-speak into civilian terms.
More than 200 veterans attended the event, and participating employers conducted 157 interviews — which doubled the success of our first H.E.R.O. event.
Veterans Day may be only a single day on the calendar, but our mission to those who serve must endure. We have work left to do, but in Phoenix, we’ll continue to do our best to support our veterans in the best way possible: with a quality job and a home.
• Greg Stanton is the mayor of Phoenix.