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Federal, state officials tour HempsteadWorks, talk to vets

Michael Michaud, left rear, Assistant Secretary of Labor

Michael Michaud, left rear, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Veterans' Employment and Training, and U.S. Rep. Kathleen Rice toured HempsteadWorks along with Hempstead Town Supervisor Anthony Santino Monday, Feb. 8, 2016. Credit: Chuck Fadely

HempsteadWorks offers job services and programs for a variety of workers and employers, but it is its efforts on behalf of veterans that drew several county, state and federal officials to the career center on Monday.

“They came to look at our program because it is an example of a model career center that is serving veterans well,” said Hempstead Supervisor Anthony Santino.

He said HempsteadWorks provides veterans with a full complement of specialized employment and career services as part of its “first priority policy” for veterans. The website lists core, intensive and training services that offer career counseling and workshops, individual employment plans and entrepreneurial training.

Santino led a tour of the program at 50 Clinton St. that was followed by a forum on the challenges facing veterans. The group included Michael Michaud, U.S. Assistant Secretary of Labor for Veterans’ Employment and Training; Rep. Kathleen Rice, who sits on the House Committee for Veterans Affairs; Marlon Ramirez, a disabled veterans outreach specialist with the New York State Department of Labor; Ralph Esposito, Nassau’s director of veterans’ affairs; Frank Amalfitano, president of United Veterans Beacon House in Bay Shore, and others.

Veterans who have been helped by HempsteadWorks also participated in the forum, which lasted about 45 minutes.

“There should not be a single veteran in this country who wants to work and is able to work but can’t find a job,” Rice said. “We have to work together at all levels of government to help find and create opportunities for veterans to put their extraordinary skills, training and experience to use in the civilian workforce, and to continue getting employers to recognize the value of investing in veterans.”

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for U.S. veterans who served on active duty at any time since September 2001 was 7.2 percent in 2014, the last year of available statistics. That compares to the national unemployment rate of 4.9 percent in January 2016 and 4.8 percent in New York State in November 2015.

Town spokesman Michael Deery said the HempsteadWorks program helps between 400 and 500 veterans get training and or jobs every year.

Michaud called HempsteadWorks and other job centers “a vital resource when it comes to finding meaningful employment for veterans and their families.” But he said the challenges veterans face would have to be addressed by a collaborative effort among federal, state and local governments, as well as public and private partners.

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