Dennis Banega, a 28-year-old Army veteran, served for four years before being honorably discharged from the military. And then the hunt for employment began. Dennis worked as a loss prevention officer for a while, and then spent two years unemployed. It was difficult to find job training on his own, and he didn’t have the resources to get the security training he needed, so he enrolled in the U.S. Vets Career Development Initiative. After completing a job training program, Dennis now works full time as a security officer with Worldwide Protection Group.
Dennis is only one of thousands of veterans who needed comprehensive and accessible programs to help support what can be a difficult transition into civilian life.
Swords to Plowshares is helping lead the way in California to deliver services and technical assistance to other nonprofits serving veterans. The Walmart Foundation’s $750,000 investment in the California Veterans Employment Collaborative has allowed organizations throughout the state to improve employment, training and placement of veterans in high growth, high wage jobs. This unique partnership enables agencies throughout California to improve targeted outreach for Iraq and Afghanistan era veterans, identify high growth job fields and provide short-term, high-impact training, followed by placement services.
Our nation has a long road ahead of us to ensure today’s generation of veterans has access to the services they need to successfully transition from combat to the community. The Walmart Foundation understands this and has invested an additional $1.35 million in Swords to Plowshares to continue the work being done in California and to launch a Texas Veterans Employment Collaborative. This is part of Walmart’s commitment to veterans – a pledge of $20 million through 2019 to support veteran employment and transition programs – doubled from an initial $20 million pledge in 2011.
With so many men and women returning from military service, our country needs veterans services now more than ever. We know that we must meet veterans where they are, as they often first need health care, housing and other supportive services before they can enter the civilian workforce. Together, we are making meaningful and lasting change for people like Dennis.
Amy Fairweather, Policy Director
Amy Fairweather directs Swords to Plowshares Institute of Veteran Policy (IVP) which conducts public policy research regarding veterans’ health, access to benefits and socioeconomic well-being. She has worked in the field of public health policy, in particular, with and for trauma survivors, since 1999. Ms. Fairweather serves as the chair of the California Governor’s Inter-Agency Council Health Committee.
Amy Fairweather received her undergraduate degree from Mills College and her Juris Doctor from the Hastings College of the Law. She is a member of State Bar of California.