- The Washington Times - Monday, June 7, 2004

More disabled veterans will be on the job at the White House as security escorts thanks to an agreement that targets government contractors employing veterans.

General Services Administration regional administrator Anthony E. Costa said the goal of the project is “to provide opportunities to the men and women who have served our country in its time of need and deserve a chance to use the experience and expertise they have developed in doing work for the government.”

About 40 veterans are serving as security escorts for contractors working inside the White House complex, Mr. Costa said, and he expects the contract will create 75 to 100 more jobs by the end of the summer.

One of the companies involved is America’s Pride: Supporting Service Connected Disabled Veterans Inc., a small business owned and operated by disabled veterans, which will serve as the subcontractor for the White House project. The company also finds jobs for disabled veterans in the civilian work force. It circulates their resumes across the country to businesses interested in employing veterans injured during their military service.

“We are just trying to help the military community in general,” said America’s Pride President Phil Saulnier, who served two tours of duty in Vietnam and medically retired from the Army as a colonel in 1985.

He said the company relies on a “big team effort” from veterans inside the company and outside civilian employers to help disabled veterans.

Tiffany Simons, 23, is working in the White House complex as a daytime supervisor for the security escorts. After serving in Iraq, Mrs. Simons started working for America’s Pride after her disability status was granted in March.

She described Mr. Saulnier as a second father who works diligently to get service-disabled veterans jobs.

“He’s very eager to bring people in,” she said, “but he is just as eager to move them up and out.”

With the help of America’s Pride, Mrs. Simons hopes to get a job with the Energy Department.

Reggie Green, 46, suffered a stress-related injury during his service in the Army. When his condition worsened, the retired sergeant and Korean linguist had to leave his job.

After undergoing colon surgery, he had trouble finding another job.

“I was tired of sitting around trying to find work and just finding dead ends,” Mr. Green said.

He met Mr. Saulnier through the Department of Veterans Affairs. He now works for America’s Pride as a security escort at the White House.

“Phil is really encouraging in finding jobs for disabled veterans,” Mr. Green said. “Phil is willing to stand behind you.”

Mrs. Simons said veterans have special characteristics that make them good employees: They are detail-oriented, flexible, eager and steadfast.

On Dec. 16, Congress enacted the Veterans Benefits Act of 2003. The law gives preference to service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses by setting aside federal government contracts for them.

As a result of the law, Mr. Costa estimates the amount of GSA contracts with veteran- and disabled veteran-owned businesses will increase from $4 million in 2003 to $17 million this year.

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