By Mike LaBella
---- — HAVERHILL — Help is on the way for local disabled veterans trying to find jobs.
About 45 of those veterans from area communities are expected to get help preparing for work through a program run by Career Resources Corp.
About half of the veterans served are expected to get jobs with an average starting hourly wage of $10, Career Resources officials said. The program is also looking to work with local employers willing to hire veterans.
Training begins this month at the Veterans Northeast Outreach Center in Haverhill and is open to disabled veterans in Haverhill, Lawrence, Methuen, Amesbury, Groveland, Merrimac, Andover, North Andover, Newburyport, Rowley, Salisbury, Boxford, Newbury and West Newbury.
The nonprofit agency serving people with disabilities has received a $199,542 state grant to help veterans with disabilities find jobs. Career Resources, based in the Ward Hill Business Park, is working with the city of Haverhill, ValleyWorks Career Center and the Veterans Northeast Outreach Center.
Officials with Career Resources said they received the grant based on the success of a pilot program in 2011 that provided job training to veterans with significant employment barriers such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, brain trauma and homelessness.
“Our role was to help veterans with significant barriers to employment find jobs,” Betty Kirk, director of employment services for Career Resources, said of the pilot program. “We served approximately six veterans, placing four in employment.”
In fiscal year 2013, Career Resources received a $10,000 grant from the city to continue the program, providing vocational services to homeless veterans and veterans with disabilities.
The money allowed the agency to serve six veterans and find jobs for two of them.
“This year the city funded us again in the amount of $8,000,” Kirk said about the grant.
As of Dec. 31, the program has served five additional veterans and has placed one in a job. Kirk said a second veteran will achieve 90 days of employment this month and another has just been hired by Career Resources to work as a recruiter for the disabilities grant her agency was recently awarded by the state.
“We plan to provide the same services to disabled veterans referred to us by the Veterans Northeast Outreach Center, ValleyWorks Career Center, and the city of Haverhill’s Department of Veterans Services,” Kirk said. “Under this two year grant ... we plan to serve 45 veterans and place 19 (in jobs).”
Career Resources and its partners will provide a variety of services, including assessment and evaluation, job development and placement, and follow-up support once a veteran is placed in a job.
John Ratka, director of Veterans Northeast Outreach, said his agency will work closely with veterans to offer services, including counseling and housing, while veterans who qualify for vocational training will be referred to the ValleyWorks Career Center.
“We’ll work to match skills with available jobs for a good employee/employer match,” said Brad Howell, CEO of Career Resources.
Arthur Chilingirian, director of ValleyWorks, said his agency will also work closely with veterans in the program to ensure they receive services ranging from transportation to counseling, as well as continued support after they are placed in jobs.
Career Resources officials said veterans with disabilities are unemployed at a rate disproportionate to the general population. Training and one-on-one support to develop employment skills will ensure that jobs are more accessible to these veterans, as well as sustainable, they said.
Veterans interested in the program or employers interested in hiring veterans are asked to contact Betty Kirk at 978-374-9122, ext. 204, or Bkirk@crc-mass.org.