Friday, September 25, 2009

Reporter's Notebook

Paul Leonard can be reached at

Job hunting for women vets

Subscribers to Business Extra may have caught this story imagining what it would be like to come home from a war-zone in Iraq and Afghanistan to find your job gone in the middle of one of the worst recessions since WWII.

But in my typical “man-centric” manner, I left out another scenario – of single mothers coming back from stations overseas to take care of their families while hunting for employment in a tough jobs market.

On this important front – stats from the U.S. military estimate about 20 percent of all active duty and reserve U.S. military forces are women – there’s some good news in the form of a pilot program based in Vancouver seeking to connect local job-creators to unemployed female veterans.

Called the Veteran Women Program, the new service organization made a quiet debut last week via a Craigslist ad for a full-time coordinator to help women veterans with job hunting, coaching and training.

VWP posted the notice on the same day scores of Southwest Washington businesses, including the Vancouver Business Journal, signed a pact at Vancouver Barracks to recognize, honor and enforce the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, which bars workplace discrimination based on military service.

“We really hope to have an immediate impact on the lives of these women, many of whom are going through a different set of challenges than male soldiers,” said Pam Brokaw of the Vancouver jobs-service organization Partners in Careers.

Brokaw will serve as the new group’s interim coordinator until a candidate is selected. With $45,000 secured from a Clark County Community Services Block Grant, Brokaw hopes to expand VWP’s services to include housing assistance and transportation.

The new service organization joins other initiatives seeking to help unemployed reservists and National Guard in a city with a long and illustrious military tradition dating back to Capt. George Vancouver of the British Royal Navy.

For those interested in more information about the program, VWP will hold an Open House event on Thursday, Oct. 15 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at PIC, 111 W. 39th St., Suite B, in Vancouver.