Creating Paths to Success for Veterans with Disabilities
Steve Adubato goes on-location to Kessler Foundation’s “Building Futures for our Nation’s Heroes” event to talk with Elaine E. Katz, MS, Senior Vice President for Grants and Communications, Kessler Foundation, and Joe Bongon, U.S. Navy Veteran and Veterans Assistance Manager at GI Go Fund. They discuss assisting people and veterans with disabilities and especially by creating paths to employment to achieve success.
"You see the folks behind us. They are part of the audience. Some of them are gonna be on the panel. The young lady I'm about to introduce is part of that panel as well, here at Kessler Foundation, talking about a whole range of issues involving our veterans. Elaine Katz is Senior Vice President for Grants and Communications at Kessler Foundation. Talk about why the forum tonight is so important, Elaine. It's so important tonight because veterans want jobs. And the focus of the Kessler Employment Program Center is to fund those innovative, bold solutions that help individuals with disabilities, including veterans, get those jobs. What are they fa...? Elaine, we've talked before offline about this. I'm fascinated, and you've been with us on other forums to help veterans. What are some of the most specific and daunting challenges that veterans face when it comes to employment? I think one of the challenges is that employers don't understand veterans and the skills that they can bring to the workplace. There are so many skills. They have talent, they have leadership, they have teamwork, they have determination, but most importantly, when you're talking about veterans with disabilities, they can solve problems under adversity. They've done that in the military. They've had to deal that with their own disability. And that's what they can bring as... and in addition to collaboration, to an employer. Now, the foundation has awarded, not given, awarded... and by the way, we are... the Caucus Educational Corporation, to disclose, we have been a grantee, in fact, of the foundation. So trust me, it's awarded. You've awarded grants to certain organizations that are working closely with veterans to help them with employment, like the GI Go Fund. Talk about that. So our grants in New Jersey have centered on employment with the GI Go Fund that's based in Newark. You know, over the years, we've given them additional grants. In 2014, we gave them a grant. Because when they started, they realized they were working to get the homeless vets off the streets of Newark. And they realized... They were doing it around Penn Station, as I remember? Right. So the idea is, "Why are people homeless?" Well, they're homeless because they don't have jobs. And they're in poverty. So, you know, it's a chicken and egg. So they started working in employment. And we gave them one of the first grants to build out their employment initiatives, and they developed relationships over the years with also Panasonic, which we gave them..."