U.S. Congresswoman Rosa L. DeLauro Encourages Continued Support of Veterans

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

U.S. Congresswoman Rosa L. DeLauro told a large crowd gathered at Gateway Community College’s (GCC) March 11 Veterans Resource and Job Fair that it is vitally important veterans have the opportunity to seek an education or start a small business, to have access to health care and attain whatever training they need to gain a foothold in a very challenging economy. DeLauro said the unemployment rate for veterans stands at 11.6 percent and that about one million veterans will be returning from service in the next five years.  

“It is a critical time,” DeLauro said. “It is a very difficult economy for our veterans and for returning veterans who have served our country and are finding themselves without a job. These are people who have sacrificed their own safety and their families have sacrificed for all of us.” She praised GCC and all of the agencies, veterans’ organizations, employers and educational institutions present at the fair for their work on behalf of veterans and encouraged them to continue to do so. She said the whole nation must rally around veterans.  

GCC President Dr. Dorsey L. Kendrick said close to 400 veterans study at Gateway, a number that has grown each year. She said she is proud of and grateful for that connection.

“l think sometimes we forget that the freedom we have and hold dearly is because of the sacrifices veterans have made on our behalf,” she said. “This is our opportunity to let veterans know about the supports that are available to them here and in our community.”  

Kellie Byrd Danso, M.Ed., NCC, GCC’s director of Career Services and Veterans’ Affairs, thanked the Gateway Community College Foundation for its support of the event as well the many community agencies and organizations in attendance. 

“It is so important that we provide much-needed resources to our veteran community,” she said.

Dave Perez, a Gateway student who served in the army for two tours in Afghanistan, said when he returned in 2011, he found just the support he needed at Gateway. Perez said Rick Palinko, the Veterans Certifying Official in GCC’s Career Services, helped him to navigate the process of returning to school and put him in touch with many other veterans at Gateway.

"The army was a family and that’s what the atmosphere is like here,” Perez said. “Everyone is always there to help.  Any questions you have, they get answered.” Perez is working toward his associate degree.

Palinko said, “The camaraderie that is built in the armed services is based on trust and on the mindset that everything you do, you do as a team. That is what we try to build here. We want to give back to the veterans because they have given so much to us. They put their lives on the line.”

At the fair, veterans gathered information from GCC’s Workforce Development and Continuing Education division, the Small Business Center, and the Office of Disability Services, as well as from representatives from the State Department of Labor, the State Department of Veterans’ Affairs, the Army Reserve, the New Haven Police Department, various veterans groups, local colleges and universities, employers, and numerous support agencies. The afternoon session featured training sessions on resume writing and other employment-related skills.  

Linda S. Schwartz, R.N., the State Commissioner of Veterans Affairs, said young veterans ages 17 to 25 have a vision of the kind of home they hope to return to, a place where they are welcomed back, where there is education, certification and meaningful work.

“After having served so proudly for our country and having done an excellent job, their vision of home is to be successful,” she said.