Speech Communication Studies partners with Westchester County to help local veterans

Abigail Rapillo, News Editor

The Iona College Speech Communication Studies Department has partnered with Westchester County in its effort to support Westchester veterans and assist them in finding work.

The county was awarded a Workforce Development Institute grant on Feb. 26 to fund a project called Westchester County Veterans communication improvement, which will focus on veterans’ communication skills and offer services in improving employment options and opportunities.

Dr. Jennifer Gerometta, the chair of the Speech Communication Studies department, said that the purpose of the program is to enhance the interview skills of veterans in Westchester.

“The Iona College Speech Communications Studies Department is honored to have the opportunity to partner with local veterans to sharpen their communication skills,” Gerometta said in an announcement on the Westchester County website. “We continue to work with veterans in developing “story scripts” to effectively enhance the interview process for veterans seeking employment, and we are grateful for the generous funding for this opportunity through the Workforce Development Institute.”

Gerometta oversees undergraduate and graduate research at Iona in speech perception and production and incorporates service learning into her programming, according to the Iona website.

Ron Tocci, the director of Westchester County Veterans Agency, said that the program will find ways to solve the issues veterans face once they come back to the States.

“This grant will make it that much easier for our vets to find gainful employment – which is key to tackling all other challenges they may face when they come back home,” Tocci said in the announcement on the Westchester County website.

“Workforce development increases our County’s talent pool and is a critical factor in driving Westchester’s economic growth and prosperity,” Bridget Gibbons, director of Westchester County Economic Development, said in the announcement. “This training will enable our veterans to gain the skills they need for employment so they can both put themselves on the road to success and contribute to our region’s business growth.”

George Latimer, the county executive, said that the county owes this service to its veterans.

“These folks who gave so much for us by fighting to protect our freedoms deserve as much support as we can possible [sic] give them upon their return home,” Latimer said in the announcement. “This grant is a small step toward providing that support – and we look forward to seeing the results it will produce.”

The Workforce Development Institute is a New York State non-profit that supports various organizations, like the government, unions, educational institutions and businesses to “grow and keep good jobs in NYS,” according to their website. The organization also develops strategies to follow employment and job trends and provides services to help individuals in the workplace, according to an Iona press release.