New Oklahoma Program Puts Veterans On Fast Track Back To Work

Thursday, December 13th 2012, 5:26 pm
By: Craig Day

A new program is aiming to put Oklahoma veterans back to civilian work much faster.

It's often hard for military men and women to transition back to the civilian work force, especially with the poor economy.

An estimated 30,000 Oklahoma veterans are unemployed.

Several programs help, like job fairs for veterans, but now there's one more to get them back in the civilian work force.

12/4/2012 Related Story: Hiring Our Heroes Job Fair Comes To Tulsa

"It's tough. It's pretty tough, and a lot of my friends getting out are having kind of a hard time finding jobs," said veteran Michael Harris.

Harris served in the Marine Corps with multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, plus assignments worldwide.

Now, home in Bartlesville, he's a student at the Tri County Technology Center.

A new program offered at all of Oklahoma's Career Tech facilities will make getting a job easier and faster.

"Anything that helps them out and makes that transition process easier by far, is going to help them and make them more successful," Harris said.

The program gives veterans the chance to test out of training they already got in the military, turning military jobs and skills into civilian job certifications they need.

"Give them credit immediately for the skills they have and get them that piece of paper they need, so they can get to work," said Lindel Fields, the Superintendent of Tri County Tech.

It puts veterans on a fast track to re-entering the work force, by not requiring lengthy training they've already had.

"These veterans are getting great skills. They're welding on aircraft carriers. Why not give them credit for what they've learned in the military?" Fields said.

The program will be offered at all 57 Career Tech campuses in Oklahoma.

Harris said, with military draw-downs on staffing and so many returning veterans, the program will make a difference.

"This will help out, speed it up a lot," Harris said.

The "test-out" program is free to veterans who use a technology center in the district where they live.

There are 29 of those districts in the state.