137044062The Veterans Economic Communities Initiative (VECI), an effort led by the Department of Veterans Affairs “to promote economic success for veterans in partnership with local communities,” was officially launched in Colorado Springs today at an event hosted by the El Pomar Foundation, according to a news release issued by the VA.

Colorado Springs is one of the first 25 communities planned to launch the program this year, according to the release, with an additional 25 online for 2016.

“The campaign is part of Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert A. McDonald’s department-wide transformation called MyVA, which is dedicated to putting veterans at the center of everything VA does,” the release stated.

Terrance McWilliams, vice president of military and veteran affairs at the El Pomar Foundation, said in the release, “Veterans are invaluable assets to our country. When they succeed, our communities are stronger, our economy is more robust and our nation is more competitive.”

The goal of the VECI is to improve economic outcomes for America’s veterans by bringing together local and national partners to coordinate services at the local level. The campaign includes a VA economic liaison in each community “who will expand and encourage collaboration among private and public organizations that offer resources related to education, training and employment. Through strategic partnerships, and by offering veterans innovative forms of learning and employment opportunities, the communities will help veterans gain competitive career skills and knowledge in locally in-demand fields.”

The first 25 communities were chosen based on transitioning service member and Post-9/11 veteran populations. unemployment, employment opportunity, job growth and education spending. Other communities include Atlanta, Chicago, Seattle and Dallas.

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Under the initiative, the release stated Colorado Springs will develop “a scalable, sustainable model over the next two years” that includes:

  • Developing ongoing public-private partnerships focused on employment and economic opportunities;
  • Fostering employer networking and encouraging hiring commitments;
  • Supporting events such as career fairs, job and employment summits and roundtables to boost economic competitiveness for veterans;
  • Sharing best practices, training and supporting employers who are considering hiring veterans; and
  • Facilitating the development of learning or resource hubs to help connect veterans to economic opportunities including entrepreneurship, credentialing and skills building.