Warner Robins, Ga. – Waves of appreciative veterans lined up for breakfast burritos and free haircuts, at the Georgia Veterans Education Career Transition Resource (VECTR) Center on Thursday, and at least for one, it came as a healthy serving of the unique work of the Center.
Patrick Flaherty, 32, served in the Air Force for 12 years, 11months, and 22 days. He spent time stationed in Germany, Valdosta, Ga., and at the end of June of this year he retired and relocated from Arizona to Warner Robins. But in all those assignments, he never heard or saw anything like the VECTR center.
“It’s kind of nice to get out of the military and find something that focuses on veterans and their family,” Flaherty said, adding that a friend who retired locally from the military originally introduced him to the Center.
The VECTR Center assists veterans, active duty personnel, and their families in transition from service to civilian. With a staff that understands the challenge of transition, the Center helps veterans find avenues to translate military skills and experience into meaningful civilian jobs. Often, the transition can include enrolling in a certificate or diploma program from Central Georgia Technical College (CGTC) or other state institutions that are able to align experience earned in service with educational offerings.
Other than breakfast burritos and a haircut, that is precisely why Flaherty showed up. Flaherty still has money left over for school and wants to find an institution and program locally that he can transition into. He said the whole transition process has not been easy, but he knows he has experience that can translate into the civilian workforce.
“I want to stay within the breadth of my experience,” he said, which is in Security Forces for the Air Force, essentially a cop. “I’m looking now in the communications, dispatch, and administration side of things.”
The Center will help him do just that. They are the point of access to the state’s 28 public universities and 22 technical colleges. In the meantime, he said he plans to enjoy the comradery in the facility.
“I love it here, to be honest,” he said. “I actually feel very comfortable being around other veterans.”
On the day, retired Air Force Col. Patricia Ross, the chief operating officer of the Center, welcomed veterans – many in similar situations like Flaherty -, thanking them for their service and commitment to the country, and for simply allowing her and the Center’s staff to help them.
The breakfast and barbering event was a collaboration between the Center, the Taco Shed Restaurant in Warner Robins, and Barbering program students and faculty at CGTC. In addition to both breakfast and haircuts, information about the work of the Center was provided.
Sponsors for the event included Coca-Cola, Premier Staffing Unlimited, and State Bank and Trust Company, in addition to the Taco Shed.
[Photo] Second year Barbering student, Abraham Bonilla, trims the sideburns of retired Air Force Security Forces Craftsman, Patrick Flaherty. Flaherty visited the Center for the haircuts by CGTC students and breakfast from The Taco Shed restaurant.