05/12/10 — Education grants available to military spouses

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Education grants available to military spouses

By Laura Collins
Published in News on May 12, 2010 1:46 PM

Michelle Hough looked for five years for something that would help her go back to school.

With her husband stationed at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, Mrs. Hough, 29, was working as a receptionist at Segrave Aviation in Kinston. But when the company laid off employees, Hough was out of a job and out of options. She wanted to go back to school to get a better job, but she needed a job to pay for school.

At a job fair on base, Mrs. Hough learned about a grant through the Employment Security Commission. The Veterans Initiative Project is funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and provides short-term training and skill certification to eligible veterans and military spouses.

"What interested me was that they pay for tuition, books and fees. I called and set everything up and it was very, very easy," she said. "I was just very happy and excited. I couldn't believe that I got to go back to school."

With the help of Debra Best, the project consultant at ESC, Hough enrolled in the medical office administrative coding and insurance program at Wayne Community College.

"After I got laid off, I noticed in the paper that there were many jobs in the medical field," she said. "I like to deal with people, I like to be out there with people and this is the perfect opportunity to be out there."

The course lasts for about a year and Mrs. Hough plans on getting her certificate at the end of summer. She said the opportunity has opened new doors for her and will provide her with job security.

"I know people will never stop getting sick. People need to be taken care of and I would like to take care of those people," she said.

The grant only covers people who reside in Carteret, Craven, Duplin, Greene, Jones, Lenoir, Onslow, Pamilico, Pender or Wayne counties. They must be either veterans or military spouses who are unemployed or underemployed. Veterans must have received other than a dishonorable discharge and military spouses must be married to an active duty service member who has at least one year left at their current location and at least two years left in service.

"It's an opportunity for veterans and spouses of active duty military who needs someone to give them the opportunity to get training that will make them marketable and employed," Ms. Best said. "The ultimate goal is to retrain people, make them marketable so that they are able to get back into the workforce."

As part of the grant, each person can receive up to $4,000, which covers a variety of classes and training-related fees including day care, books and supplies. However, Ms. Best said the grant is not for starting a two- or four-year program since the grant requires that the recipient must have completed their classes or training by May 31, 2011. The grant can also be used for gaining work experience. If someone already has a certificate, they can work through the ESC for eight weeks to gain experience.

The funds for the grant were $156,359 and in Wayne, Lenoir, Greene, Jones and Duplin counties, only 40 people have taken advantage of the money. Ms. Best said they are looking for 48 more people who are eligible for the grant.

For more information about the grant contact Ms. Best at 731-7950 ext. 224.