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Veterans Getting A Chance In The Workplace With Internship Programs

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Grand Rapids, MI- Veterans often struggle to find a job in this economy, but now a new program is letting them take the skills they learned in the military, to the workplace.

Wearing a shirt and tie in an air conditioned office is quite the change for Gary Vetitoe, who's used to wearing layers of body armor in the heat of Iraq.

His transition to civilian life hasn't been easy.

"For about 6 months there it was really just finding part time work here and there, nothing that could really support my family," explained Vetitoe.

After eight years in the Army, including two tours in Iraq, Gary had the qualities, skills, and abilities that employers should love, like discipline, commitment, and working well in a team.

But like so many veterans returning home, he struggled to find a steady job.

Then he heard about a new program aimed at helping vets like him in western Michigan.

"A lot of our veterans have great military experience and there was this great chasm between taking that military experience and converting that into civilian and so we wanted to bridge that divide," said Lemark Payne of Spectrum Health.

Renee Dibble, who served for 5 years in the Navy, is another of the few dozen veterans taking part in Spectrum Health's Veterans Explorers program.

A 30-week paid internship that allows vets to spend 10-week rotations in various departments throughout the company's network of hospitals - learning job skills along the way, with the goal of landing a job.

"They need to do this program, they need to make it nationwide, because it's a really good thing," said Dibble.

Spectrum Health has already decided to expand the program to have more than 60 veterans by the end of the year. Across the country though, this is a much bigger problem, with more than 720,000 unemployed vets.

The group hopes that with the success of its program, that other businesses across the country will be encouraged to develop their own programs as well.

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