Veterans Outreach Program ends early, leaving several jobless

At the end of last year the Texas Veterans Commission provided a grant to the Goodwill of West Texas."The first cycle that we earned was scheduled to end the 31st of October," explains Coordinator of Veterans Services, Chuck Wilson.However, Goodwill cut the program two weeks sooner than that scheduled date, leaving employees out of a job."It came as a shock," says former employee Arlanda Knight.Former employees say the loss to the city of Abilene is an unfortunate one.Knight says, "The sad part about it is we are actually losing a great resource in this community.""The fact that they then added insult to injury by cutting everybody off two weeks early was kind of the last straw," says Wilson.Now the employees that worked for the Veterans Outreach Program have to go out job hunting.Wilson says, "They're going to be doing that themselves, just like they had been helping people do for the last number of months."Most importantly, this early termination left veterans with no where to turn."A lot of them that came into the program came in homeless. A lot of them didn't have anything to eat, so my concern wasn't about me, it was mainly about them," says Martha Ruelas, another former employee.Veterans who were working at Goodwill through the Veterans Outreach Program were given only a week's notice.Knight describes, "Some of those people were sad, some were angry. They thought they had more time to at least pay rent.""A lot of them were counting on being there until the 31st," says Ruelas.At the final hour, employees were doing all they could and were able to help two veterans find jobs before they shut their doors, for good.Knight says, "I was actually ecstatic that I was able to help them even on the last day we were still making help to these veterans."Now that the program is gone, employees have no choice but to patiently wait and see what happens next."I'm waiting to see if another program comes up to help veterans that I can get in to," says Ruelas.When the president of Goodwill was contacted, she said that veterans who were in the midst of being taken care of, are now working with internal personnel of Goodwill.