Welding Training Program for Veterans.
The Real Deal or Too Good to be True?
When I stumbled upon Wounded Warrior Family Support and their post on social media advertising a free training program for veterans to learn a skilled trade, I was currently going through a rough patch in my life and desperately needed an opportunity. Sparing the details of my unique circumstances, let’s just say that after what I had been going through I was for sure a bit skeptical of such a genuine opportunity. Nevertheless, I reached out to one of the coordinators for the program, Mrs. Colson. Unfortunately, she informed me that all the seats had just been filled for the upcoming six week class but would put my name at the top of the list if anyone decided they could no longer attend.
As I stated before, I was a bit skeptical to begin with so I didn’t exactly hold my breath for her to call back. However, low and behold, just a little over a week later she called and stated that someone had dropped from the roster and she had a last minute seat to fill. Still, not yet a full believer in the reality of the program, I graciously accepted. Within a day I received a free itinerary for a flight out of Dallas, TX to Detroit, MI where the veterans welding program takes place. At this moment the reality of things are beginning to sink in.
After my arrival in Detroit, I was checked into the Marriott along with several other veterans who had arrived for this training program as well, and I finally got to meet Mrs. Colcon in person. As a few of the participating veterans lived close enough to drive to Detroit, we all car-pooled between the hotel and the UAW-Ford facility where the welding training program took place. Every morning during the week as we arrived at the facility we were served a very nice catered breakfast. We were also served an amazing catered lunch everyday as well. I caught myself several times during the first week pinching myself to bring about assurance that this wasn’t a dream.
The instructors were organized, punctual, professional yet laid back, and very thorough with a majority of hands on teaching. Regardless if you had been welding for years, never even seen welding equipment, or were taught incorrect techniques in the past, the instructors’ style of teaching ensured that everyone at any skill level would learn the skilled trade of welding. At the end of every week we all received a $200 check from WWFS to live on during our weekends away from home. Since we were all assigned roommates, we were always finding things in the area to do together. During one of the weekend my class was asked to participate in a Veterans Day parade where we all were given a very nice Jacket that I still wear to this day. At the end of the parade there were many booths with various programs for veterans to take advantage of. Another weekend many of us participated with a charity group to help clean up a nearby school park.
At the end of the six week training program we were all allowed the opportunity to test for our welding certifications. Most of us passed and were certified as GMAW welders. All of us were allowed to keep all of our welding equipment that was assigned to us at the beginning of the program which consisted of a Miller hood, welding jacket, gloves, and tons of booklets and guides. The day proceeding the last day of the program, those of us who flew in were given another free itinerary for a flight back home.
Upon returning home I gained some new experiences, met and retained a few new veteran friends, acquired a new trade skill, and discovered and amazing opportunity that I would pass onto other veterans. Since the training program I have been able to actually utilize my certification through various welding jobs in my area. I’ve performed welding jobs for a water company pipe and tank and have also fabricated many metal gates for fancy driveways. To say that this welding training program is beneficial for our veterans is a severe understatement. I truly hope that this amazing program continues for many years to come and I will continue to spread the word.