The United War Veterans Council helps veterans find jobs and includes a component that also helps the environment. NY1's Tara Lynn Wagner filed the following report.
Mario Figueroa spent the first part of this century serving his country.
"I served in the Pacific Theater as well as in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom 2," he says.
His new mission involves going green, but that doesn't mean the former Marine is any less focused on red, white and blue.
Figueroa works for the United War Veterans Council, where a bulk of the staff is made up of veterans or their family members. Among other things, the nonprofit runs a recycling program that deploys trucks to collect donated items to be reused, re-sold or recycled.
"We're diverting from landfills about 100 tons a month, just within the five boroughs," says Debra Menich, director of the United War Veterans Council Recycling Program in the Greater New York area.
The proceeds raised through this effort get cycled back into veterans programs, many of which focus on helping military personnel transition into civilian jobs.
"We can help put veterans in touch with executives to network with them, develop resume-writing skills, all of these things that they need to be successful in the civilian world," Figueroa says.
We are talking a lot of people. According to the Council, more than 200,000 veterans live in the five boroughs, and Chairman Harvey Bagg Jr. expects another 40,000 or more to re-enter the local workforce shortly.
"Members of the military at all levels, from enlisted to fairly senior officers, coming into the civilian arena," Bagg says.
When it comes to hiring, veterans say they don't want to be seen as charity cases or obligations. Instead, they prefer employers to look at the unique skill set they bring to the table."
"We bring leadership," Figueroa says. "We bring an ability to work individually but also as a part of a team, to make decisive decisions and always have mission accomplishment."
Finally, veteran or not, environmentalist or not, chances are you'd like to pay less in taxes. Donations made to the program are tax deductible, making it a win all around.
"You're employing veterans, you're giving to veterans, you're taking it away from the landfill and you're getting a tax receipt," Menich says.
For more information, visit uwvcpickup.org.