The number of disabled veterans in the U.S. has increased 25 percent over the last seven years. Today there are 2.9 million disabled veterans in the U.S. including over 181,000 veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan who are receiving disability as of May 2008. A January 2007 report from the Small Business Administration entitled “Self-Employment in the Veteran and Service-Disabled Veteran Population” revealed that during the years 1988 – 2005, 64 percent of service-disabled veterans were unemployed. 32 percent of disabled veterans were employed by an organization of some sort while four percent were self-employed.
As soldiers continue to return from Iraq with devastating injuries that probably would have killed them in previous wars, they will hopefully be rehabilitated and begin seeking gainful employment. What better place for these veterans to find work than as home-based contact center agents?
Veterans2Work (V2W) is a relatively new organization that seeks to find opportunities for disabled people, and particularly disabled veterans, as home-based workers. Run by contact center industry and Vietnam veteran John Reynolds, V2W is a joint venture with the already-established CORA, which stands for Creating Opportunities by Recognizing Abilities. CORA is a certified training facility that trains, equips and qualifies disabled people for work. CORA can also function as an outsourced facility with disabled workers remaining with CORA but contracting for work with another organization – the classic contact center outsourcing arrangement.
CORA can also train and mentor workers to become direct hires of other companies through a set training period that demonstrates their abilities, typically 90 days, before the disabled worker becomes an employee of the hiring company. V2W’s job is to make sure the business community at large knows about the availability of this workforce.
Although the contact center industry as a whole has not fully embraced the notion of the home-based agent or employee, it’s time to get over the misconception that home-based workers are not as productive or reliable as office-based workers. Internet Protocol (IP) and unified communications (UC) offer any employee or contractor a means to stay in touch with the office regardless of his or her location. A home-based contact center agent can have virtually identical communications capabilities as an office-based colleague with UC solutions such as presence ensuring that qualified support is never more than a mouse click away for any agent.
V2W also offers American business what I consider to be an additional benefit in that it provides many industries, including the customer service industry, an alternative to sending jobs offshore in order to lower labor costs. With the substantial state and federal tax benefits that come with the hiring of disabled veterans and other workers, or through contracting with organizations such as CORA for outsourced services, there is now a viable financial alternative to sending contact center agent jobs to offshore locations.
As a veteran of the armed forces myself I believe it is vitally important that we take care of our own. Corporate America, and in particular the contact center industry, owes it to itself and to those who have served to consider what V2W might be able to do to help American business, and to help those who have suffered disabilities in service to their country. For more information on V2W visit www.veterans2work.com or call John Reynolds at 415-925-1515.