Most of us know someone who is serving or has served in our armed forces, and many veterans, especially wounded ones, have to struggle for adequate healthcare and employment once their military service has officially ceased. Statistics like veteran suicide rates and unemployment rates are staggering. According to the Los Angeles Times, even the Pentagon runs a Suicide Data Repository that links death records to military and health care status. The most startling statistic to come from this kind of data is that an average of 22 veterans commit suicide every day. While it is most common to blame post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) for this high suicide rate, a down economy and high unemployment rates can also influence veteran suicide rates. Enter Hernan and Rachel Luis y Prado, who have decided to do something about this massive social problem through their Workshops for Warriors program that trains veterans in the 3D design suite SOLIDWORKS.
The dedicated couple began this Workshops for Warriors out of the garage in their own home, and the program has grown through corporate donations. In fact, they are now trying to raise $15 million for their own advanced manufacturing center in San Diego. The Workshops for Warriors program, which offer SOLIDWORKS CSWA (Certified SOLIDWORKS Associate) and CSWP (Certified SOLIDWORKS Professional) degrees, boasts great employment success for the veterans’ trained. Since 2011, the program has graduated 194 students–and they have achieved 100% job placement for all of these students, too.
Not only does Workshops for Warriors want to build a large manufacturing center in San Diego, but the idea is to expand this training model all over the US. Hernan Luis y Prado explains the big picture concept here:
“When we founded Workshops for Warriors it was a perfect opportunity to solve two of America’s most pressing needs. One is the lack of advanced manufacturing talent in the United States of America, and the fact that veterans and wounded warriors weren’t able to integrate successfully into civilian life again…we are concerned about America’s lack of talent. 2.3 million advanced manufacturing jobs go unfilled due to lack of skilled labor. Take this pool of a million veterans who are transitioning in the next five years…we are going to train them, certify them to nationally recognized standards.”
This idea to retrain veterans in emerging technologies can have lasting impact on chronic social and psychological problems veterans face when reintegrating into civilian life. Another very positive aspect of the program is that since wounded veterans are targeted, they will be around others like themselves who have an understanding of what they have gone through in combat. Comradeship instead of isolation in a job training environment, and 100% job placement upon receiving SOLIDWORKS certification, are excellent perks of an innovative program that is increasingly getting attention from corporate donors.
Discuss this story in the Workshops for Warriors forum thread on 3DPB.com. For more information on the Workshops for Warriors program, you can check out the webpage here, or watch the below video which features many program graduates: