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home : news : north central illinois   August 1, 2014

8/29/2013 6:44:00 AM
IDES' Ottawa office nation's best for veterans employment services

Craig Sterrett

OTTAWA — As Labor Day approaches, Illinois Department of Employment Security’s Ottawa office was singled out Wednesday by the American Legion as the nation’s best provider of employment services to veterans.

Nancy Curran is the Ottawa office manager. She will accept the award on behalf of all IDES associates during a ceremony at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, Texas during the 95th American Legion national convention. The American Legion is paying expenses.

According to an IDES press release, Curran said Illinois has a good story to tell helping veterans return to work. She said this honor shows there is reason for veterans, their spouses and their loved ones to be optimistic. Curran also said it is rewarding to work with Veterans and the local partners at Ottawa’s One Stop comprehensive center.
The Ottawa office was one of the leaders in the state’s progressive Veteran Information on Benefit Services program, IDES spokesman Greg Rivara told the NewsTribune.

“It’s a program that doesn’t get a lot of press,” Rivara said of VIBES. “It is an opportunity where veterans or their spouse as well as businesses and employers can receive information about re-employment services the department offers in addition to other services offered by other entities.”

Through VIBES, veterans learn that they have priorities in certain services the department has, such as finding out about a job opening a day before civilians do.

Every state’s employment services program submitted a nominee for the award. The Ottawa office won a state award and contest among IDES offices statewide for efforts for veterans, and this year IDES submitted Ottawa as Illinois’ nominee for the American Legion convention.

Rivara said the award certainly reflects well on what the Ottawa office is doing but also is an “honest to goodness reflection of the work that DES and the governor are doing for veterans.”

IDES Director Jay Rowell said, “It is an amazing honor to be recognized by our military heroes across our country and incredibly rewarding to assist Veterans to return to work and transition back to civilian life. The award recognizes IDES’ emphasis on employment services as well as the dedication shown by our associates to help those who have sacrificed so much for our freedom.”

IDES is charged with delivering re-employment services to veterans. In 2012, IDES helped 17,000 veterans return to work. The veteran unemployment rate in Illinois was lower than the national rate in 2011 and 2012. The state rate in 2011 was 8.1 percent, the national rate 8.3 percent. The state rate in 2012 was 6.8 percent, the national rate 7.0 percent
It is the first time Illinois has won a national award from the American Legion. Only one national winner is chosen each year.

Among Illinois’ services for veterans is a program to signify businesses as veteran-friendly if they meet certain standards. The state provides tax credits of up to $9,600 to employers who hire a veteran, and IDES works “to knock down the story that veterans are unstable employees, because we know that’s not the case,” Rivara said.

From the April 7, 2007 NewsTribune file

From the NewsTribune files, 2007:

Union members had an informational picket outside the Illinois Department of Employment Security office in La Salle on April 7, 2007. The unemployment office was scheduled to close, but the picket will likely have little impact on keeping the office open.

"It's a done deal," IDES spokesman Mica Matsoff said.

Members of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Locals 2823 and 2794 as well as other local unions stood outside the IDES office at 815 Second St. with signs, letting the public know the plight of the office and its employees.

"They are going into the city of La Salle and burdening it some more by taking away jobs here and moving them to Ottawa," AFSCME 2794 executive board member Don Petre. ...

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