The majority of civilians will never know the horrors our fighting men and women face on the battlefield, far away from their loved ones. Once they finally get to come back, the struggle isn’t always over for veterans, as many return home suffering from PTSD or unable to find work. The US Department of Veterans Affairs does what it can in terms of offering suicide prevention and mental health services, but according to a recent VA study, 18% of all suicides in America are committed by veterans. The San Diego-based 501(c)3 nonprofit Workshops for Warriors (WFW) school aims to help solve the problem of veteran unemployment, by training veterans in 3D design suite SOLIDWORKS.
The program has done a lot of good since its inception in 2008: what was once run out of Hernán and Rachel Luis y Prado’s garage has grown substantially through many corporate donations, including $75,000 in funding from financial service firm JP Morgan Chase & Co. just two months ago. The school offers SOLIDWORKS CSWA (Certified SOLIDWORKS Associate) and CSWP (Certified SOLIDWORKS Professional) degrees, and also recently partnered up with SolidProfessor to teach veterans and transitioning service members engineering and design skills. Veterans and returning soldiers can also learn advanced manufacturing skills like CNC machining, welding, and CAD/CAM programming.
In December of 2015, nearly 250 veterans had been trained at the school, with 100% going on to jobs in advanced manufacturing. That number has dipped a bit and is now at about 94%, which is still phenomenal. The school also obtained its fourth patent this fall, for a WFW-designed system that secures equipment on irregular support surfaces.
This week, WFW announced a new partnership with maintenance, repair and operations (MRO) distributor Johnston Companies. The company has pledged $100,000 over four years to the program’s advanced manufacturing training center and other WFW training programs and scholarships; its initial $10,000 contribution will cover part of the tuition cost for one student for a single semester.
“We have a current waitlist of more than 500 veterans seeking entrance into our program,” said Hernán y Luis y Prado, Founder of Workshops for Warriors. “This donation would be a big boost to one of them wanting to help fund their ability to undertake this life-changing educational experience. We’re extremely grateful for this scholarship.”
Johnston Companies is family-owned and opened in Missouri in 1968. It serves manufacturing needs in multiple industries, including aerospace, fabricators and machine shops, and woodworking. The company has six branch locations nationwide, and maintains an online store, including cutting tools, adhesives and sealants, and machinery.
Johnston Companies CEO and President Susie Johnston Fox said, “With nearly 50 years in the industrial supply business, we are trusted by companies large and small for our high-quality products, with solutions based service and ability to find significant cost savings for our valued customers. Supporting organizations like Workshops for Warriors is inherent to our culture that began with my father’s service in the United States Air Force. We look forward to developing a long-standing relationship with this great school.”
The initial contribution was made last Wednesday during an official ceremony, featuring both Fox and Luis y Prado, at the company’s annual meeting at the Big Cedar Lodge in the Ozark Mountains.
WFW’s mission is “to provide quality training, accredited STEM educational programs, and opportunities to earn third party nationally recognized credentials to enable veterans, transitioning service members, and other students to be successfully trained and placed in their chosen advanced manufacturing career field.” Between 2011 and 2016, the program has been responsible for training and certifying nearly 350 veterans, through its two primary training tracks. Some of the lasting impacts this wonderful program has achieved include:
- Reduced unemployment for veterans
- Meeting US market demand for more trained, certified manufacturing workers
- Enhancing economic stability in the San Diego region
- Supporting growth of the US manufacturing sector
- More veterans successfully transitioning to civilian life, with hope and a renewed purpose through a secure civilian career path
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