Rich Brooks, President of Agility DGS Inc., speaks at the opening of the Operation PAVE Chicago office May 28, 2014.
Award-winning veterans employment program Operation PAVE opens it’s doors in Chicago
Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) officially opened the Chicago office of its employment assistance program for veterans, Operation PAVE (Paving Access for Veterans Employment). The office is located within the Edward Hines, Jr. VA Hospital.
Operation PAVE provides free one-on-one job counseling and placement assistance to veterans, their families, and their caregivers, and specializes in assisting veterans with disabilities seeking to re-enter the workforce. PAVE counselors also work with local employers committed to hiring veterans to identify qualified employment candidates. In 2013, Operation PAVE was awarded the Don Weber Wounded Warrior Employment Award by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Hiring our Heroes program.
The Chicago office will serve veterans and their families in Illinois, Indiana, Missouri and Ohio.
“We’re very proud to be opening our seventh PAVE location to serve veterans and their families who are seeking employment,” said Bill Lawson, National President of Paralyzed Veterans of America, who officially opened the Chicago office. “The unemployment rate for veterans, especially severely disabled veterans is still too high. Through our PAVE network across the country we hope to reach these veterans, place them with employers who are looking to hire veterans and cut that unemployment rate.”
Joining Lawson at the grand opening was Rich Brooks, President of Agility DGS Inc., and the private sector partner that raised the money to fund the Chicago PAVE office.
“Chicago-area businesses know the value that veterans bring to the workplace. The PAVE center at Hines gives them a place to go to find veterans who are ready to thrive in productive, meaningful careers,” Brooks said. “I know Chicagoland employers will use the PAVE center as a resource and give veterans a chance to show the same dedication and leadership in the workplace that they demonstrated when they served our country.”
William Bryant, a Marine Corps veteran and PAVE client living in the Chicago area, also attended the PAVE program opening.
“Without PAVE, I would’ve given up,” says Bryant, who had planned for a long military career but was medically and honorably discharged due to a disease that impaired his vision.
Bryant worked closely with Chicago PAVE counselor Pattrice Smith who helped him overcome his declining vision, improve his typing speed, build up civilian tech savvy and craft a résumé. Smith arranged disability-friendly training at a prospective employer, Chicago Lighthouse for the Blind, and worked as liaison between employee and employer, matching skill sets to real job openings.
“I wouldn’t have my current job without her,” Bryant says of Smith.
Today, even with his new job, the counselor and client keep in touch, and he now refers other veterans to her.
Chicago’s Operation PAVE office is part of a national network built by Paralyzed Veterans through an innovative public-private partnership. For more information about Operation PAVE, visit www.operationpave.org.
Since 2007, 2,500 veterans have received services through the PAVE program, and 700+ companies and organizations in the PAVE Employer Network have committed to hiring a PAVE client.