Outreach program designed to help veterans find jobs

By AMANDA THAMES | The Daily News, Jacksonville, N.C. (Tribune News Service) | Published: January 3, 2016

Jacksonville is a military town, and it’s filled with veterans who have served and fought for their country. Some of those veterans need a little extra help, and NCWorks is answering the call.

Gerardo “Gerry” Cruz, the veterans employment services supervisor with NCWorks, said the need to help veterans touches home for the employees there.

“We are veterans, so we know their needs,” Cruz said.

NCWorks meets with veterans at local libraries each week, identifying what veterans need, Cruz said. The veteran assistance outreach began in December and is held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Tuesdays at the Swansboro Public Library; Wednesdays at the Richlands and Sneads Ferry branches; and Fridays at the main branch in Jacksonville.

Cruz said some are homeless, others are in need of transportation or driver’s licenses, and many are unable to pay for what they need. The ultimate goal is to find each person a job, but many needs go hand-in-hand: To pay rent and buy groceries, for example, these veterans need to earn money.

NCWorks — formerly the Employment Security Commission Office — is able to help the veterans find jobs, Cruz said. The organization helps connect veterans with other local agencies to help with all other needs. Some of these connecting agencies include Eastern Carolina Human Services Agency, Family Endeavors, Disabled American Veterans and the Salvation Army.

“We reach out to all the agencies to see who can help them,” Cruz said.

Cruz said they chose the libraries because they wanted a place they knew veterans could be found. The library staff and others they have helped spread the word so anyone in need knows where and when to find NCWorks.

“It’s a good thing to pay back and help as much as we can,” Cruz said. “By helping the veterans, we help the community as well.”

©2016 The Daily News (Jacksonville, N.C.)
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