Commissioners propose Veteran Internship Program

Oakland County Commissioners Jim Runestad (R-White Lake) and Dave Woodward (D-Royal Oak) have proposed the creation of a Veteran Internship Program for Oakland County to help returning veterans find work and make a better transition into civilian life. The proposal has already earned broad bipartisan support.

Returning service members, especially those having served in the Iraq/Afghanistan conflicts, are struggling to reintegrate into civilian life and have difficulty in navigating cultural differences between military and civilian life. This culminates into higher than average unemployment rates as they encounter challenges in their efforts to translate their military skills in order to gain employment.

"Returning veterans have skills and training that can be transferred to new jobs ," said Runestad.

"With the right type of support, mentorship, and opportunity, this program can help veterans transition from military to civilian employment through a supportive work training experience."

The goal of the Veteran Internship Program will be to:

* Assist veterans with the transition to the civilian workforce.

* Build veteran's skills and confidence.

* Provide the opportunity to develop on the job experience and training for a wide variety of careers in county government and in the civilian workforce.

* Support Oakland County departments and agencies in developing an understanding of the skills and abilities that returning veterans offer to the government work force.

* Honor the service of veterans.

"Oakland County can be leader in reducing unemployment among veterans," said Woodward.

"We have a real opportunity to develop a meaningful program that serves veterans in an appropriate way for the service they gave to our country."

Numerous communities and government agencies have developed and implemented similar programs with great success, including King County, Washington; Los Angeles County, California; Virginia Department of Transportation. Commissioners will be gathering information and best practices around the country to design a program proven to work.

The county resolution Runestad and Woodward introduced calls on the county administration and departments to work with the county commission, develop a plan and projected cost to present back to the Oakland County Board of Commissioners for further consideration, within 45 days of the adoption of the resolution.

The resolution has been referred to the county board's Public Services Committee, and is expected to be considered at the next meeting Thursday, Nov. 1, at 9:15 a.m. If the resolution passes in committee, then it will go before the full Board on that same day for a vote, at the Board of Commissioners meeting beginning at 9:30 a.m. in the Oakland County Board of Commissioners Auditorium located at 1200 North Telegraph Road in Pontiac.

For additional information, contact Commissioner Woodward at 248-894-6650 and Commissioner Runestad at 248-802-5500.

Published: Wed, Oct 31, 2012