Veterans Learn Skill To Join Civilian Workforce

The Veterans Outreach Center's new program is helping veterans take the experience they have and earn certification to land high paying jobs in a tough economy. 

Dan Cummings was in the Navy for five years including two tours in Iraq.  Now, he's back in boot camp in the Rochester School District, "we're not getting yelled at, it's not early in the morning, and our lives aren't being completely controlled," explained Cummings, "so it's just more so learning, which is a big part of boot camp."

Cummings is one of 12 veterans taking a two week welding class.  The class is being offered thanks to a partnership between the Veterans Outreach Center and the Rochester District, "there's so much to it, it's an art, it's more than just putting to metals together and welding it," said Maurice Howard, a veteran taking the class.

Howard spent two and a half years in the Navy as an operations specialist but has fallen on hard times, "I've been unemployed for a while, a good year," explained Howard, "had a lot of dead end jobs, tried to move up the ranks, it's really difficult."

The class is providing Veterans, like Maurice, an opportunity to land a job, "Rochester is all about manufacturing," explained Dan Collins who is teaching the class, "there's over 200 machine shops and manufacturing facilities in Rochester and all are looking for highly qualified people willing to work and learn."

After two weeks of putting torches to metal Dan and Maurice will graduate on Thursday.  Both are optimistic about the future, "now I got some weight with me," said Howard, "so you know, not only do I have words, now I've got a nice beefy resume to back them up."  Cummings added, "if a job is out there and I can find a good enough job, but ideally I would like to jump start my businesses and use those skills to improve on that."

The veterans will graduate on Thursday.  They'll all get 12 business cards and portfolios, and employers and union leaders will be at the school for a career fair.

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