FLORENCE — Be Connected, a statewide partnership designed to equip and connect veterans with their community, resources and employment, wishes to formalize its collaboration with Pinal County and programs that assist veterans, a spokeswoman told the Board of Supervisors Wednesday.
Ayla Linder told the board the group would return with a proposed agreement at a later date. Linder said Pinal is home to more than 35,000 veterans, and including their families, they represent approximately 20% of the county’s population.
An Air Force veteran and business owner, Linder said veterans often face barriers to employment. Retired veterans used to want a simple job where they could relax, but that is not true for most of them today, she said.
“The veterans of this era are very different than the ones 20 years ago. We see a lot more looking for a second career.” The problem is often translating their skills to a new occupation, and they’re often overqualified for the jobs they’re interested in.
“I experienced the same thing, I was overqualified for many jobs in the $40,000 to $50,000 range,” Linder told the board.
Junior enlisted service members and National Guard and Reserve members often have the opposite problem and may need more skills to provide for their families. The coalition works with both veterans and employers so that employers know what veterans can do, Linder said.
Be Connected began in 2017 as part of the Arizona Coalition for Military Families. The New York Times has covered its efforts to prevent veteran suicides. It exists for all service members and veterans, regardless of branch, component, length or era of service, and discharge status. Visit ConnectVeterans.org and BeConnectedAZ.org.