Area groups offer help for veterans

By Nicole Johnson  bio | email | Twitter

NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Most people remember to thank veterans on national holidays like Veterans Day, but several local groups show their appreciation every day.

Goodwill, Crisis Ministries, and East Cooper Community Outreach all have programs to help veterans find a job, a place to stay, or other support.

Bernard Weiters walked into Goodwill's Job Link Center to work with job placement specialists. In the 1970s he served in the army.

"I enjoyed it. I enjoyed being with the 82nd. I got to do things that most people had to pay for," Weiters said.

He says years after his service he suffered an alcohol addiction. He had nowhere to turn, and he struggled to find work. The Veterans Affairs Department set him up with Goodwill's Operation Independence program.

"I think it's great because it gives me a sense of hope," Weiters said.

"Once we give them all the training that they need, make sure they have a resume and know how to check their email, which is very vital to finding a job in today's job environment, then we help give them assistance with job searching," said Goodwill employment specialist Manish Rodriguez.

Other area organizations also have programs to help veterans. East Cooper Community Outreach has a program to help veterans find jobs. Crisis Ministries recently received federal grant money to build a new dorm for homeless veterans. The facility will include 40 beds, a health clinic, counseling area, and group meeting space.

Through Goodwill's Operation Independence program Weiters landed a job doing maintenance work with Goodwill Industries. He says the assistance truly makes a difference.

"I can get on the computer and look for jobs. I've got something to do, and it inspires me," he said.

Goodwill also offers clothing vouchers to veterans in need who are referred to them from other agencies. The VA Department estimates there are more than 107,000 homeless veterans nationwide.

The ECCO job program for veterans begins Friday. It's at the Mount Pleasant office on Six Mile Road. A representative from the Charleston Workforce Center will be there Fridays from 10 a.m. until noon. Veterans can get help with job referrals, training, and resumes.

©2010 WCSC. All rights reserved.