WASHINGTON — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers formally reopened its Washington, D.C.-area Veterans Curation Program laboratory at its new location in Alexandria, Va., May 1, 2012. The new facility replaces the laboratory that was opened in Washington, D.C. in 2010.
The Alexandria laboratory is one of three Veteran Curation Program labs funded and operated by USACE, joining the two labs previously opened in Augusta, Ga., in October 2009 and in St. Louis, Mo., in December 2009. Each site was selected because it is home to high populations of veterans and returning wounded veterans.
Approximately 10 veterans are being trained and employed for up to six months at each laboratory in computer, photographic and scanning technologies that will be applied to the rehabilitation of USACE archaeological collections and their associated records. After six months, another group of approximately 10 veterans will be rotated into each lab for training and employment. The technical skills learned at the labs will be transferrable to potential future jobs outside the labs.
"President Obama called for a new Veterans Job Corps initiative to help our returning veterans find pathways to civilian employment,” said the Honorable Jo-Ellen Darcy, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works. “This is an incredible program that I talk about every chance I get. It finds a positive and innovative way to put our returning veterans and disabled veterans to work, while protecting and caring for our nation's archaeological materials and associated records."
The St. Louis District’s Center of Expertise designed and is managing the implementation of the Veterans Curation Program. USACE hired John Milner Associates of West Chester, Pa., to manage the Alexandria location. Brockington and Associates of Norcross, Ga., manages the other two laboratories.
In 1995, USACE created the Center of Expertise for Curation and Management of Archaeological Collections in its St. Louis District to provide protocols and best management practices for maintaining heritage assets. USACE has an extensive collection and has not been able to fully keep up with proper curation requirements under the National Historic Preservation Act.
USACE specialists and contractors are working closely with the Department of Veterans Affairs and non-governmental returning wounded veterans groups to fill many jobs at the laboratories with veterans and disabled veterans. Jobs are being tailored and rotated to fit the medical needs of those disabled veterans who are unable to work a full day and to offer on-the-job training and work to more veterans.