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VA Southern Nevada Healthcare system job program gets veterans back on track

Posted at 6:50 AM, Nov 24, 2020
and last updated 2022-01-13 13:07:41-05

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — The pandemic put thousands of Nevadans in unimaginable situations with no end in sight. Veterans are perhaps feeling the pain more than most.

The group already struggles with the transition out of the military to civilian life and now some are doing this in the middle of a pandemic.

There are several programs trying to help veterans navigate the transition during this time, including Veterans Affairs (VA).

“My father was in the military, he retired out of the military and that was something I always wanted to do,” said Leeroy Hornage.

Leeory moved to Las Vegas after serving 9 years in the military. But the job search proved to be tough, so he turned to the compensated work therapy program at the VA Southern Nevada Healthcare System.

CWT has two parts to help get veterans back on track. Helping them cope with things like PTSD, homelessness and more, and then getting them trained, re-skilled and prepared to take on the workforce.

“The job market has really left them with no sense of direction,” said James Edmunds. “PTSD starts to to come out, the anxiety comes out and there’s nowhere for them to look in terms of finding employment.”

James is one of the counselors for the program. He says the pandemic hit an already vulnerable population.

Massive layoffs combined with a smaller pool of jobs to pick from is causing feelings of hopelessness among veterans and their families.

“They shut down, they tend to go off to themselves, they lose focus, they lose motivation, they lose a sense of actually feeling like they belong. Those are all dangerous areas to be in,” said James.

Making programs like CWT key in helping veterans get back on track.

“The most amazing thing to see is when these veterans first come into class. Their heads are down, their shoulders are slumped. Then when get placed over here, they’re walking straight, their heads are held up high, and they feel entitled because they are around other veterans and they see, I thought I was going through this issue by myself, it gives them the energy to see they are not doing it alone,” James said.

After completing the CWT program, Leeroy landed a job at the North Las Vegas Medical Center and now works in housekeeping.

Leeroy says he’s grateful to be able to provide for himself once again.