Everyone deserves the opportunity to work. However, many of our veterans are not getting that opportunity.
Nearly 6 million Americans have served in the military since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and almost 3.2 million of them are now civilians. That group's unemployment rate is 9.9 percent — while unemployment for the rest of the nation is 5.6 percent.
That gap in unemployment rates is unacceptable. And it is why I started a scholarship endowment program aimed at helping veterans get needed funds to pursue vocational and skilled-trades training that can lead to employment.
Veteran Scholarships Forever helps veterans transition back to civilian life quickly and successfully. Although there are government programs such as the GI Bill, which help veterans get an education, these programs do not cover all types of training.
What kind of training and what kind of jobs?
The training would be for veterans to take nondegree programs in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. These are programs offered at many two-year colleges in South Carolina and nationwide. These lead to jobs that are steady, offer good pay and lead to long and rewarding careers.
I'll give one example of a veteran I met in the Greenville area. He had been out of the military since 1999 and working primarily in the service industry. He had gone back to school but never finished his degree and could not find a job he really wanted. He took a certification course at Greenville Technical College in an area that interested him and had a great job before he even completed the course.
That is an example of the success stories Veteran Scholarships Forever wants to see happen. We believe we can replicate those successes repeatedly by giving veterans the opportunity they deserve for defending our country.
As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, Veteran Scholarships Forever receives contributions from individuals and organizations. Once donations are received, Veterans Scholarships Forever establishes endowments at evaluated colleges where veterans can apply for these scholarships.
The college then manages the endowment and provides scholarships to veterans with the most need to obtain the skills needed to be qualified for a job placement that will allow veterans to provide for themselves and their families.
Veterans are still eligible for other forms of financials aid. Veteran Scholarships Forever does not grant scholarships directly, but interested veterans and current spouses can contact the colleges to inquire about the program. Spartanburg Community College is participating, and those interested should contact Robert Leslie at 864-592-4910.
Veteran Scholarships Forever is about more than just filling a gap in the system. It is fixing that gap. It is building a career. It is about building lives.
Ron Demonet is the director of Veteran Scholarships Forever. Learn more at www.scholarshipsforever.org.
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