On May 4th, several staff members from the Independence and Pittsburg Workforce Centers attended a Community Green Zone Veterans Advocacy Training at Independence Civic Center. The event, created and facilitated by Dr. Alan Parsons, was designed to help community organizations know how to assist Veterans transitioning to civilian life by connecting Veterans with the resources and tools needed to reintegrate in our community.

The 4-hour training covered essential communication and interaction, questions not to ask, military culture familiarization and public-friendly terminology, best practices for forming community partnerships, Veterans returning to school, how employers can best utilize Veteran-prevalent skill sets, Veteran healthcare, encouraging Vets to seek help when needed, and where to send a Veteran needing assistance.

In the military community, the Green Zone is a relatively safe place amid a struggle where parties can meet to discuss how to bring an end to the war around them. Dr. Alan Parsons envisions Green Zone Advocates as serving a similar purpose in our local communities. Individuals who’ve completed the training can be counted on to help connect Veterans to organizations within our community to meet their specific needs and bring an end to their current struggle (a.k.a. “war”) by providing a safe place to obtain assistance.

Our very own Mike Feiveson, Veterans Employment Representative in Pittsburg, presented an overview of KANSASWORKS services which included Priority of Service for Veteran job seekers and families, networking with employers, and the employment and training services available for Veterans and the public. Additional presentations included Loran Osborne, SMVF Navigator for Four County Mental Health, Leah Delamarter, ICC Veteran Success Center, and Jason Owens, Schenck Insurance, among others.

When asked to comment on Community Green Zones, Loran Osborne, Four County Mental Health said, “We are striving for a robust provider-ship in both typical and atypical arenas…in Southeast Kansas…We have already begun to see an influx of available work and partnerships bringing returning Veterans and their families here, and we want to continue building new and innovative ways to accomplish this…” Osborne hopes by increasing Veterans’ advocates in our community, we can drastically reduce Veteran suicide, isolation, and homelessness.

Osborne emphasized the importance of displaying the Green Zone symbol within organizations who’ve completed the training so Veterans recognize the location as a safe place they can trust for resource connections. He also stressed the importance of utilizing community partners who can provide effective services for our shared customers. Although attendance was lower than expected for this first community event, attendee engagement and partner networking was better than expected.

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