Free breakfasts and public thank-yous are wonderful for veterans on Veterans Day, but if you’re unemployed, they’re not a job.
The Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce knows that. It has a rather unique program to reach out to former military members who are of working age, offering them training and other help to find work.
The Veterans Business Council was set up in 2014, explicitly with the thought that jobs are an essential part of a successful return to civilian life.
The council includes nearly two dozen chamber members, all of whom are veterans willing to help other veterans. They work for companies like General Electric and Regeneron, for law firms and real estate companies, for nonprofits and veterans’ counseling organizations.
These folks have connections, and they’re willing to use them to help other veterans, said Denise Romeo, the chamber’s executive vice president.
“People don’t always want to come forward, but we know people are out there who could use our help,” she said.
In one example of its mission, the Business Council recently offered an advanced emergency medical technician training class for veterans who want to upgrade their EMT skills. It’s also offering seminars on how veterans can start their own businesses.
Then there’s fundraising: The council raised thousands of dollars through last week’s Revolutionary Run 5K foot race in Schuylerville, which benefits the Saratoga County Veterans Trust Fund.
That fund, which is privately raised money managed by the county, can be spent to help individual veterans with specific needs — a disabled veteran who needs help with a home repair, for instance.
A different 5K race, the GlobalFoundries Malta 5K, just raised $37,000 for charity, including $15,000 that went to VetHelp, the nonprofit that runs separate shelters for homeless veterans in Ballston Spa.
While lots of veterans make a successful adjustment to civilian life, VetHelp’s beds are pretty much always full, often with people who served as long ago as Vietnam, and as recently as Iraq and Afghanistan.
At the GlobalFoundries computer chip plant in Malta, leaders note that they’ve hired quite a few veterans. In the military, the company says prospective employees learn essential skills to work in a cutting-edge manufacturing plant, things like teamwork and problem-solving.
“It’s been a great talent pipeline for us,” said Thomas Caulfield, Fab 8’s general manager.
If you know a veteran who could use some job help, call the Chamber of Commerce at 584-3255.
Saratoga National Historical Park in Stillwater, in partnership with the Sons of the American Revolution, will host a Veterans Day commemoration today.
There will be an encampment by re-enactors of the 2nd Continental Artillery Regiment behind the park visitor center from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Cannon, I can tell you, will be fired.
There will be a formal ceremony at 1 p.m. to acknowledge veterans from the American Revolution through today.
The park, site of the Battles of Saratoga in 1777, has its main entrance on state Route 32.
Stephen Williams is a Gazette reporter. Opinions expressed in his column are his own and not necessarily the newspaper’s. He can be reached at 395-3086, [email protected] or @gazettesteve on Twitter.