BRCC Helps Open Doors For Vets
Posted: November 17, 2012
HARRISONBURG — Returning home from active duty, many of the nation’s combat veterans face a difficult challenge, says Catherine Mathias, the veterans certifying official at Blue Ridge Community College.
Often, military members return home to find themselves with a family to support, no steady income, and difficulty finding a job with the often-specialized training they received in the military.
In order to get a job, they have to attend school, which presents its own set of challenges. While attending school, for instance, it is hard to work a job — assuming they can find one — to earn a living.
“It’s kind of a vicious cycle,” Mathias said. “It keeps going around and around.”
Blue Ridge fills an important role in getting the 200 or so veterans currently enrolled the training they need to land a job quickly, BRCC President John Downey says.
“Even though [veterans] have the skills that they learned in the military, they don’t have the certifications that will allow them to get employment directly in the fields they excelled in [when they were] in the military,” said Downey. “These veterans are extremely talented — we just need to help them get the certification they need in as seamless a way as possible.”
New funding recently made available by the state may enhance those efforts at BRCC and other community colleges.
Gov. Bob McDonnell recently announced that up to $1.25 million in Workforce Investment Act Rapid Response Assistance funds are now available to schools under the Virginia Community College System to connect veterans and military spouses to jobs in high-demand fields.
The maximum award for any one college is $250,000.
Each grant would require the college to partner with a local workforce investment board, a disabled veterans’ outreach program and a local veterans’ employment representative. Proposals must be turned in before Dec. 19.
Downey said BRCC will likely be working closely with the Shenandoah Valley Workforce Investment Board to develop the school’s proposal for funds, and that other details will be worked out as the college works through the application process.
“I think it’s a really important initiative,” Downey said.
Contact Emily Sharrer at 574-6286 or firstname.lastname@example.org