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U.S. Veterans Initiative Workforce Training Program honors its graduates today

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Today U.S. Veterans Initiative Program Manager Linda Clark Holland and Raymond O'Pharrow, the Work Force Coordinator for U.S. Veterans Initiative, joined Pastor Joseph Evans in a program that honored Bobby Arrington, Michael Banks, Anthony Belton, Gregory Bryant, David Copeland, Thomas Dooley, William Dye, Stanley Pilgrim, Curtis Wallace, Reginald White, and one additional graduate, Davian English.

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By no longer just talking about the problem of homelessness and unemployment among American veterans, the program today was an answer to the problem. With one company even providing airline tickets for a graduate of the program to fly to New Hampshire for a career opportunity; the U.S. Veterans Initiative program has given formerly homeless veterans job training and placement that will put them to work now.

The graduation program today at Mt. Carmel Baptist Church on 901 3rd Street, NW, was a triumphant award ceremony and luncheon that changed the lives of the graduates of the U.S. Veterans Initiative Workforce Training Program. "I am so glad that we are here for this first graduation program for the U.S. Veterans Initiative Workforce Training Program. We are so excited to be here because we have been waiting for this time when we can complete the full training and all of you get certificates and we will put everyone to work," Holland said.

For one American veteran who has been unemployed for many years the training and job placement was a gift from heaven. After 10 years in the District of Columbia, the program today was a major achievement for U.S. Veterans Initiative in the goal of helping to eliminate homelessness for American veterans. Earl Woodland, president of the Woodland Construction Safety Academy, stood beside the veterans in the U.S. Veterans Initiative Workforce Training Program and he told them that they should be proud of the work they had done to complete the program.

It took two years of planning and hard work to make the program a reality. O'Pharrow said that it was the networking ability of Woodland that took the program from the talk stage to action. He said they wanted to make certain that after the veterans were trained there would be a job waiting for them. He acknowledged the work of Gwen Johnson, Training Assistant, Woodland Construction Safety Academy.

Tracy Mapp, Intake Specialist/Program Assistant for U.S. Veterans Initiative, was also given special recognition for the dynamic work that she has done in the program to encourage American veterans not to give up or to give in. John Hurley of Niche Workforce Solutions was praised for his efforts to work with the organization to give veterans every possible chance to succeed in their efforts to overcome homelessness and unemployment. "We started with 10 and we are ending with 10 completions," Woodland said.

The American veterans came to the stage to receive their program completion certificates and each shared their thoughts with the audience on being taken from homelessness and unemployment to being in the position to provide for themselves and their families. Their comments held a common theme that had it not been for U.S. Veterans Initiative to give them a chance to regain their lives. "Somebody has got to stand up. Somebody has got to take their place. Somebody has got to do the work," O'Pharrow said. "Everybody that attended the program has a job waiting for them," he said.

Graduate Michael Banks thanked U.S. Veterans Initiative for believing in him. "I am looking forward to getting back to work. So I really appreciate this program. Thank you very much," Banks said as family, friends, and staff applauded.

The ceremony ended as Holland and her staff quickly prepared to go to a meeting with the U.S. Veterans Initiative leader, Stephan Peck, son of actor Gregory Peck of the legendary movie To Kill A Mocking Bird fame, as they were making plans to do even more to help American veterans.

To support the work of U.S. Veteran's Initiative in Washington contact Linda Clark-Holland at