OCEANSIDE — The first night of the class close to a dozen students introduced themselves and shared their previous work experience. A former Marine Corps Scout Sniper was among the students in the VANC (Veteran Association of North County), Transition Assistance Program that began March 5.“I want to work harder and better for my two kids and my wife,” Ken Redmond, a former Marine Corps Scout Sniper, said. “I don’t want to worry about when my kids are going to eat next.”“I’ve been knocking down doors, but nothing is working,” Mary Jane Fisher, a Navy veteran, said. “I need to take the next step in networking.”
“I have been homeless since I got out of the military,” Ofelia Figueroa, an Army veteran and mother of three, said.
Figueroa found housing for herself and her children in December through Veteran Housing Assistance, but has not been able to secure a long-term job.
“I really want to have a permanent job,” Figueroa said.
Most students in the program are 20- to 30-year-olds who left the military for medical reasons after four to eight years of active duty service. Some hold civilian entry-level jobs. All have the goal of starting a career that can sufficiently support their family.
To help discharged veterans, the Transition Assistance Program holds eight class modules over a month that instruct veterans in self-assessment, goal setting, resume writing, networking and interview skills.
“We’re not letting go of them until they get what they need,” Sandra Fichter, VANC board vice president, said.
A job fair takes place the final night of class.
Unlike retired veterans, released active duty military part military service with few benefits.
“There is a huge need,” Lloyd Prosser, retired Marine Corps officer and consultant to the program, said. “They are young and basically on their own — no medical and no retirement.”
Classes are currently being held in a building next door to the Veterans Affairs Oceanside Clinic. The plan is to move the program into the VANC center on Mission Avenue in late spring or summer after enough funds are raised to add electricity and plumbing to the center.
Transition Assistance Program sessions are scheduled for the next six months and are open to enrollment. The goal is to help the growing number of returning military who are discharged. Nationally 200,000 active Armed Forces and 100,000 National Guards and reservists are discharged yearly.
“We’re hoping to be teaching the class for years,” Jerilyn White, VANC volunteer and press liaison, said. “It will be needed for years.”
For more information, visit vancnorthcounty.org.