Office for People With Developmental Disabilities

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Hiring Heroes: Matching the Extraordinary Skills of Veterans to Jobs in the Field of Developmental Disabilities

11/08/19

As New York celebrates our heroes on Veteran’s Day, the Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) announces new career opportunities for those who have served our country and are now looking for new ways to serve their community.

As a Veterans Administration-approved employer, all OPWDD service delivery locations are now approved worksites for the GI Bill® Veterans Training and Apprenticeship Program. Veterans who join the OPWDD direct support workforce can be eligible for additional VA tax-free stipends throughout their 12-to-15-month traineeship.

“We’ve heard from the veterans who have enjoyed the transition to direct support from the military and they have told us that the ability to make a difference in the life of others provided them a new mission,” said OPWDD Commissioner Theodore Kastner. “The successful economy in New York State has made it more challenging to recruit direct care workers in our field, so this program is a win-win for veterans and for the state, providing us with hard-working, mission-driven employees who want to help others.”

All of the OPWDD worksites were approved in October by the New York State Division of Veterans’ Services, which serves as the State Administrative Agency (SAA) delivering program support to veterans and employers. The approvals were sought to enhance the agency’s recruitment efforts and outreach to veterans.

“Across New York, veterans of our armed services have returned home after serving courageously on the world’s battlefields. The New York State Office for People With Developmental Disabilities can give Veterans the ultimate ‘thank you’ by allowing them the opportunity for employment,” said William Clarke, Veterans Education Program Manager for the Division of Veterans Services.  “These veterans bring invaluable skills. They are trained to be team focused, mission oriented, responsible, dedicated, respectful, and accountable. These qualities can enhance the capabilities of our workforce.”

Ben Abbrid, who served as an infantryman in the U.S. Army, is now in an OPWDD traineeship in direct support in northern New York and shared his experience in a videotaped interview.

“It makes me feel like I completed my mission knowing that there’s an individual here that will better their life because I am a part of it,” Abbrid said.  “As a direct support professional, I have the power to help an individual reach a goal that they would probably never be able to reach.”

OPWDD is targeting outreach to veterans in partnership with the NYS Department of Labor through veteran-focused job fairs and working regionally to connect with veterans’ organizations that can help match veterans with jobs.

Veterans interested in OPWDD careers can find more information on the agency website www.opwdd.ny.gov/veterans.  Information on the GI Bill is available at www.benefits.va.gov/gibill.