Workshop for Warriors: Fighting for Veteran’ Gainful Employment


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Workshop for Warriors (WfW), a San Diego-based non-profit organization, has a single mission: to provide veterans of the U.S. Armed Services with vocational training, commercially viable work experience, job placement and an opportunity to contribute to the community. Several manufacturers and suppliers in the industry have donated CNC and waterjet equipment to this worthy cause, which not only helps veterans find secure jobs, but helps to alleviate the skilled-labor gap.

WfW founder and CEO Hernán Luis y Prado says that veterans consistently face significant barriers to employment. “Nationally, the unemployment rate (for veterans) averaged 20.4 percent in 2012—almost double the unemployment rate for the civilian population—and this figure continues to rise,” he says.

CNC machining, welding and waterjet operation are amongst the industry-specific training options available. However, Luis y Prado is quick to point out that the organization also offers mentoring, education and other training to help veterans transition to civilian life. “We provide a combination of classroom education, vocational training and work experience that empowers veterans and increases their career options, confidence and self-respect,” he says. “Instruction is offered by skilled veterans, active-duty service-members and industry experts. Our programs work to ensure long-term independence and integration of veterans into the workforce.”

In order to provide actual work experience and help veterans move from economic insolvency to self-sufficiency, WfW also often organizes hands-on tasks that help disabled and homeless veterans, the community, and local businesses. Recent projects include fabricating handicap railings, handicap-accessible ramps, metal cylinder pallets and new doors for a local restaurant. This teaches the veterans necessary job skills and provides them with a steady income, Luis y Prado says.

Industry Involvement
Luis y Prado urges the mold manufacturing industry to be active in WfW’s efforts. “There are three ways that companies or individuals can help a U.S. veteran who will be a part of America’s new modern manufacturing force: sponsor a veteran with a donation; let your network of friends, family and co-workers know what we are doing; and volunteer your time. We have an ongoing need for people to help at the training facility and in our offices, as well as a need for volunteers who can work from their home for a few hours each week.”

Equipment manufacturers are rising to the occasion with donations as well. Last January, Flow International Corp. provided WfW with a high-speed, high-precision Mach 2c waterjet system with Dynamic Waterjet taper control, HyPlex Prime 55,000-psi pump and FlowMaster Intelligent Control software. Veterans underwent a three-part instructor training program so they could become certified operators on the Flow waterjet system.

Haas Automation Inc. also recently donated four CNC machines to the organization, which enabled WfW to increase its class sizes by 300 percent, and Sandvik Coromant donated $1 for each recycled pound of carbide it received. In addition, the Gene Haas Foundation has offered a matching grant of as much as $100,000 to increase support of veteran training.

WfW already can claim significant achievements. “In the past 12 months, Workshops for Warriors has trained and certified 90 graduates from welding and machining classes,” Luis y Prado says. “The students have already earned 157 certificates, and we have a 100-percent job placement rate with living wages.”

For More Information
Workshop for Warriors / (619) 550-1620