Hundreds of thousands of dollars for veterans’ training will go away in two months.
Thursday, July 3, 2008
Joseph Werner desperately wants to give away nearly $200,000– before the money disappears.
About a year ago, the state awarded the Monterey County Workforce Investment Board $500,000 in federal money to pay for schooling and training opportunities for local veterans.
“We still have between $175,000 and $200,000 that we can commit to vets and it’s going away on Sept. 30,” says Werner, executive director of the WIB. “We need to find a way to encourage vets who are returning from foreign campaigns, such as Iraq and Afghanistan, to take advantage of it. Otherwise this community will lose this opportunity.”
Veterans who qualify for the program receive up to $5,000 to pay for higher education or vocational training based in the region. In addition to tuition, the money also may be used to cover books, transportation costs, child-care services and the like.
“In an environment that has an 8 percent unemployment rate almost throughout the county– and 11.2 percent unemployment in Salinas– the opportunity to enhance and refine your skills by going to any school, up to $5,000 is significant,” Werner says. “We’ve got the opportunity to train between 30 and 40 more people, but we need to figure out a way to do it rather quickly.”
She learned about the veterans grant at the One-Stop Career Center, which is overseen by the WIB, applied for it and received $2,000, which, in addition to Montgomery GI Bill money and other financial aid, paid for a year of computer science at California State University Monterey Bay.
“The county money helps,” McAttee says. “It’s a good opportunity.”
Rede learned about the veteran’s grant at One Stop, and working with a counselor there, he decided to pursue a business accounting degree at Monterey Peninsula College. He started taking classes full time in June, and he’ll earn his associate’s degree next July. He hopes to get a job at a local firm and work while he takes university classes and, later, studies for the Certified Public Accountant exam.
He says he initially felt nervous about going back to school.
“I was apprehensive, but now I feel useful again,” he says. “I feel I can do something different with my life.”