By Jason Matthews
At the National Veterans’ Training Institute (NVTI), our mission has always been to provide veterans services staff with the tools and resources to assist veterans. As 2023 draws to a close, the journey of veteran employment had big wins but also faced old and new challenges. The aftereffects of the COVID-19 pandemic and associated economic challenges haven’t faded. Nevertheless, the Jobs for Veterans State Grants (JVSG), and Homeless Veterans’ Reintegration Program (HVRP), and the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) programs showed resilience, adapting their strategies to meet these challenges head-on. They’ve not just reacted to present conditions but anticipated future market demands, equipping veterans with relevant skills.
As we reflect on 2023 at NVTI and look towards 2024, a recap of this year serves as the ideal foundation. It underscores our enduring commitment to empowering service providers with specialized training, helping veterans smoothly navigate the ever-changing job market.
Tangible Achievements in 2023: Veteran unemployment saw a clear decrease to 3.6% this year.  The current administration’s policies and corporate commitments have fortified the support system for transitioning veterans.  Specifically, the U.S. Department of Labor invested substantially in HVRP and JVSG, allocating over $52 million and serving 16,923 participants. Impressively, 61% of these HVRP participants secured employment, boasting an average hourly wage of $17.47. 
Pivotal Programs: HVRP and SOAR: The HVRP program has been a cornerstone in supporting veterans this year, especially in its collaboration with the SOAR model. SOAR, which stands for SSI/SSDI Outreach, Access, and Recovery, focuses on assisting veterans with accessing Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. This combined effort aids veterans in finding employment and ensures they receive vital benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA), crafting a comprehensive safety net. 
Looking Ahead to 2024: Predictions for 2024 indicate the Department of Veterans Affairs supporting over 453,000 full-time staff. With a projected 2.8-3.1% increase in disability pay rates and a $348 million allocation for Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (VETS) programs, financial commitment towards veteran support is evident. 
In 2024, the efficacy of workforce programs will greatly depend on regional partnerships, as initially outlined by WIOA, JVSG, and HVRP. Service delivery in the programs can be complicated and the most successful workforce regions and providers will be those to fully use their partner network. Organizations who don’t send and receive customer referrals fail the veteran. Conversely, those that actively engage and collaborate with partners will better serve veterans and support sustainability. Embracing joint efforts ensures comprehensive services for veterans and positions providers for success in the coming year.
NVTI–A Beacon for Veteran Support: As 2023 concludes, NVTI stands as a beacon of support for our veterans transitioning into civilian employment. We’ve gone beyond just reacting to employment trends; we’ve anticipated, strategized, and acted.
This year, we tackled veteran service provider burnout and trauma through webinars, job aids, and community forums. Our May 2nd podcast episode further discusses these challenges.  To enhance partnerships and program delivery, we introduced journey maps for the Disabled Veterans’ Outreach Program (DVOP) specialists, Local Veterans’ Employment Representatives (LVERs), and Consolidated Position (CP) staff, as well as for HVRP and other veteran service provider staff underscoring our dedication to assisting those who serve veterans.  we’ve continuously updated our curriculum adding topics such as serving veterans with substance use disorders. furthermore, in fy 2023, we expanded our JVSG Career Roadmap Certificate program. Now, beyond JVSG staff, our NVTI community has a clear path to monitor career growth. Poised for the future, NVTI’s curricula champions a diverse and inclusive workforce. 
But our mission doesn’t stop there. As we move into 2024, we invite you to continue this exploration with us as we dive deeper into the details of veteran employment service delivery, offering insights into topics like the increasing role of AI in the workforce, the interplay between veterans, mental health, and opioid use, and the complicated nature of public-private partnerships shaping the future. Through NVTI’s unwavering commitment to continuous learning and growth, we empower providers with the training they need to offer veterans comprehensive support, tools, and opportunities to excel in their civilian careers.
So, whether you’re a service provider, a stakeholder, an employer, or simply an interested reader, join us as we chart the course for a brighter, more inclusive future for our veterans.
Also take a look at NVTI Resources