PEMBROKE — Representatives of the Lumbee Tribe, and state and federal agencies gathered Thursday to launch and celebrate a program that they say is the first of its kind in Indian Country.
A ceremony took place at the Lumbee Tribe Veteran Service Office, located at 204 W. Third St. in Pembroke, for the Disabled Veterans Outreach Program. Raymond Hunt was introduced as the program specialist.
Hunt, a member of the Lumbee Tribe, will work to help military veterans who are disabled and disadvantaged find jobs.
“This is another first for the Lumbee Tribe,” said Harvey Godwin Jr., Lumbee Tribe chairman.
The tribe already was a leader in initiating a federal Housing and Urban Development-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing program, he said. Through the HUD-VASH program homes are found for homeless veterans. The Lumbee Tribe’s is now the top HUD-VASH in Indian Country.
Once the program is up and running it will serve as a template to launch outreach programs in American Indian tribes across the nation, the chairman said.
“This is three years in coming,” Godwin said of the program.
The effort to bring the outreach program was begun under the previous tribal administration, he said.
“We know this will be successful,” Godwin said.
Hunt will spend 50 percent of his time in the field working with employers and career centers to link veterans with jobs and training programs, he said. Hunt’s work will benefit employers by finding them good employees and benefit veterans by finding them jobs that provide incomes that will improve their quality of life.
“It will serve all veterans, but will focus on Lumbee veterans,” Godwin said.
The program is the product of a partnership between the Lumbee Tribe and the U.S. Department of Labor and the N.C. Department of Commerce.
Attending the ceremony were tribal leaders; John Savage, U.S. Department of Labor Regional Veteran director; Archie Barrow, director of Veteran Employment Service at N.C. Department of Commerce Division of Workforce Solutions NC; Mark Edmonds, N.C. Department of Commerce Division of Workforce Solutions CEO; John Lowery, N.C. Department of Commerce Regional Operations director; Lane Dyer, director of Veterans Employment and Training Service at the Labor Department; community members; and local veterans.
Barrow said, “Because of the partnership between the Lumbee Tribe and the departments we were able to make this possible.”
“This is the first in the nation to work directly with a tribe,” Savage said.
But he guarantees it will not be the last, Savage said.
For more information on this program, visit the Lumbee Tribe Veterans Service Office or call 910-522-2210.
David Scott is the Information Support Services manager for the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina.