More than 40 veterans recently stopped by the Gulf Coast VA Health Care System ready to “Dress for Success.”
The event, sponsored by Men’s Wearhouse, offered new and gently used suits to vets who are enrolled in the outpatient and inpatient Compensated Work Therapy program.
CWT program manager Anthony Williams said events like this are important for veterans who are trying to find employment.
“I believe an event like this lets veterans know we are serious about helping them find employment,” he said. “Several veterans said they didn’t have clothing to wear for interviews, so they never really tried to gain community employment.”
Air Force veteran grateful for VA and community support
Kyle was in transportation in the Air Force for eight years before separating back to civilian life. That transition didn’t go as well as he’d hoped.
“I went in the Air Force when I was 17 and got out when I was 25,” he said. “I felt this loss of identity that I never imagined.”
Decked out in his new suit, Kyle said he was thankful.
“It means a lot, not just that the VA would do this, but to have the community come out and support us veterans who are struggling to get in the workforce. It just means a lot,” he said.
Kyle entered the work program through the VA. It wasn’t because he wasn’t able to find a job, but because he found himself on a path that wasn’t healthy.
“I’ve had jobs,” he said. “But the environment wasn’t good for me and I knew I needed to change some things.”
He started as a night stocker at a local store. Within three weeks, he was promoted to oversee all the night stockers.
“My work ethic speaks for itself,” Kyle said. “But I had to ask myself what I was going to do to be successful. The answer to that was to find this program so I didn’t end up on the wrong path again.”
Williams said he’s trying to transform the CWT program. He recently hired two vocational rehabilitation specialists to start community-based employment service programs in Biloxi, Mississippi, and Mobile, Alabama.
“We are not only trying to help them ‘Dress for Success,’ but we are in the process of starting life skills and computer training,” Williams said. “We are going to partner with our business community and our Veteran Benefits Administration partners to assist veterans.”