NEW BERN – A new program aims to help veterans get jobs after serving.
The Veterans Initiative Project pays for veterans' tuition, fees and books as they work toward employment certificates or degrees. Military spouses can also get the assistance. The program is funded by federal stimulus money.
After four years in the Navy, Louis Williams is tackling a new challenge: a career in computer information technology.
"Computers are going to be the future, and I want to get in field and be part of the future," Williams said.
Williams is studying at Craven Community College. His tuition is paid for by the project
"It's helped me tremendously," he said. "I didn't exactly know how I was going to pay for school."
Veterans and military wives can get the assistance in 10 eastern North Carolina counties: Carteret, Craven, Duplin, Greene, Jones, Lenoir, Onslow, Pamlico, Pender and Wayne.
In addition to help with tuition and fees, the program offers some help with transportation to and from campus and child care. Those services are based on need.
The program is designed to get vets back in the workforce quickly. Participants must finish their program by June 2011.
College administrators say community colleges can help students meet that deadline.
"We offer a lot of job training programs, short term certificate program and some two year degree programs which can be completed quickly," Sandy Wall, of Craven Community College, said.
Air Force veteran Joseph Rys hopes to get a job in electrical engineering. After three decades, he's decided to go back to school.
"It's my first semester in quite a few years, and it's been an experience where I really had to wake up my mind a little bit," he said.