Created: 07/08/2014 6:34 PM KAALtv.com
By: Steph Crock
(ABC 6 News) -- A new pilot program will offer free hotel accommodations for military veterans searching for jobs in Minnesota. Hilton Worldwide and the National Association of State Workforce Agencies are partnering for this effort, and Tuesday it was given the nod by Governor Dayton.
"It's Hilton's continuing recognition in support of job-seeking veterans by providing free guest rooms and accommodations through the donation of Hilton's HHonors Points," said one of Hilton's representatives at a press conference Tuesday.
The state of Minnesota joined three other states, one of which is Iowa, in the new pilot program, offering hotel rooms to vets looking for work. That need is seen across the state, especially right here in southeast Minnesota. "They talk about the metro area a lot, but what they don't realize is now with the Destination Medical Center, we do have a lot of vets that I get calls from everyday asking if there are jobs down at Mayo and where I can stay," said Scott Metcalf with Veteran’s Employment Services in Rochester.
"Just in Olmsted County, when we talk to the county veteran’s service officer, we're well over 17,000 vets in this area and probably 10 percent or more are unemployed," said Metcalf.
Plus, getting started can be the biggest challenge and Metcalf says every little bit helps. "You always hear the cynical part as well, 'they’re only doing it for the publicity’ or whatever, you know that's fine, but they're still laying the money out there, it's dollar for dollar," he said.
A night’s stay in the metro area is around $200. This program would allow veterans who are actively looking for work to stay free at any Hilton for three nights, a savings of roughly $600 depending on where you are. "We're not going backwards, we're going forwards and it’s good to see that," said Metcalf.
Veterans traveling to Minnesota, or to a different region within the state to search for employment or housing, can access free hotel accommodations through the Hilton HHonors Program. Veterans can contact their local disabled veterans outreach program specialist to enroll.