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  • Board OKs continued partnership between Southern AZ VA Health Care System and Pima County Workforce Center

    May 04, 2017 | Read More News
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    Military veterans who are enrolled in the Southern AZ VA Health Care System (SAVAHCS) Department of Housing and Urban Development-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program will benefit through job training and other services to secure employment, thanks to a partnership between SAVAHCS and Pima County’s Kino Veterans Workforce Center.

    The Pima County Board of Supervisors at its May 2 meeting approved a no-cost Memorandum of Understanding between the two partners that allows HUD-VASH Vocational Development Specialists to provide employment and other services to the HUD-VASH job ready population at the Kino Vet center on 2801 E. Ajo Way. 

    Vets CenterHUD-VASH combines rental assistance for homeless veterans with case management and clinical services provided by the VA, generally at medical centers and community-based outreach clinics. The partnership here marks the first collaboration in which VA Vocational Development Specialists are embedded in a county facility to better provide these services, said David Balderrama, who oversees the Kino Veterans Workforce Center.

    Michael Arinello and Matthew Staples, Vocational Development Specialists with HUD-VASH who have been working out of the Kino Center for a little over a year, said the partnership with the county offers opportunities via the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act that the VA wouldn’t be able to provide.

    “The county Veterans workforce center has programs and grants that otherwise are not available through the VA,” Arinello said. 

    The Veterans Center, for example, has several computers that vets can use for job searches and also hosts twice-monthly networking sessions with employers where they can explain in detail what they’re looking for in employees.

    By partnering with the Kino Veterans Center, the HUD-VASH team expanded the range of services available to them through agencies like the Primavera Foundation, La Frontera and the Community Food Bank. That prompted the team to organize a resource roundtable with more than 50 community agencies attending to give veterans a better understanding of what programs and services each agency provides in support to veteran employment.  

    The stories of veterans and their families who have come through the center speak to the success of the partnership. Arinello and Staples recalled the spouse of a deceased veteran who had spent the last 10 years caring for him. She lamented her lack of work experience.

    “Well, guess what we told her? That (caregiving) is a skill,” Arinello said. Today, she makes $14 an hour as a home health care aide.

    Both Arinello and Staples said there is no higher calling than assisting veterans in regaining their independence and total re-integration into society.

    One veteran, Staples recalled, sent him a personal card thanking him for believing in him and taking the time to assist him in obtaining not just a job, but a full time permanent career at the VA hospital.

    Learn more on the outreach offered to veterans, call 520-724-2646.

    Return to Pima County FYI