The Department of Defense’s Employer Support of the National Guard and Reserve (ESGR) program recognized two JVS SoCal leaders for their commitment to reservists and National Guard fulfilling their military service requirements while maintaining civil employment.
Shantae Conliffe, Associate Director of Veterans Services and John Gutierrez, Director of Workforce Development and Veteran Services, received the 2023 Patriot Award. This award recognizes supervisors and bosses nominated by a guardsman or reservist employee for support provided directly to the nominator or their families.
Guardsmen and reservists are required to train a minimum of 39 days and be ready for deployment at any time. While many employers support veterans, not all are willing to provide safegards that allow reservist to fulfill their comitments outside of work.
“At JVS SoCal we don’t see that as a barrier, we see that reservists and National Guardsmen have a lot to offer, not just from their experience in the military but also professionally,” explains Conliffe. “We like to hire individuals that have this experience and can connect with the veterans we serve.”
Conliffe estimates that 25% of the veterans served by JVS are reservists.
“We also partner with local employers throughout southern California to hire our veterans. Some incentives include reimbursing them for training the veterans to do a job, or sharing information about local tax incentives,” said Conliffe. “We really try to be advocates for our veterans and reservists by opening d doors for them wheren access is not typically there.”
JVS SoCal offers services for veterans residing in Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino and Ventura counties. These services, according to Conliffe, impact thousands of veterans in those counties, and often include things like housing, mental health, and other job readiness services.
“We have programs like the Homeless Veteran Reintegration Program (HRVP) that not only is working with veterans, they are working with reservists, National guardsmen and their family members and dependents. So, if a family member of that veteran is homeless, that program
connects them with community resources,” adds Conliffe.
One of the programs that is an entry point for many veterans, guardsmen and reservists is the Veterans Peer Access Network (VPAN), which serves nearly 2,000 veterans and their families. In partnership with the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health, VPAN connect veterans with community organizations providing essential services.
“The whole premise is that we want to address social, emotional and economic barriers that affect veterans from the start; and not wait to a point to where they are in acute crisis or thinking of endangering themselves or others,” explains Conliffe.
Although the award is intended to be presented to an individual, Shantae insists that it involves all the JVS SoCal staff at the Bob Hope Patriotic Hall in downtown Los Angeles. Her team enjoys bringing services to veterans, one at a time, and being able to help them is their greatest reward.
“The most satisfying part is when we see that we are making an impact,” emphasizes Conliffe.