College Credit for Heroes Supports Four New Programs for Veterans

Nick St. Clair (1).jpgThe Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) recently announced the award of over $1 million to support four new accelerated certificate or degree programs through its College Credit for Heroes (CCH) program, a statewide effort designed to maximize the award of college credit to veterans and service members for their military experience.

Since the program’s inception, more than 85,000 veterans have created accounts at CollegeCreditforHeroes.org. An estimated 27,000 veterans have received evaluations with an average of 16 credit hours awarded per student from participating colleges and universities.

Nick St. Clair served as a medical specialist, practical nurse and field artillery officer in the U.S. Army. After leaving the service, he applied for the nursing school program at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC), a College Credit for Heroes partner school, and was referred to the program. St. Clair was awarded nine service credit hours and used the credit to obtain his Bachelor of Science in nursing in 2016.

“I began my adult life as a medic, practical nurse and hospital educator in the Army and absolutely loved it,” said St. Clair. “After some time away from patients, I’m fortunate to have had the opportunity to return to my first professional love.”

St. Clair is currently employed as a registered nurse at John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth. He credits his success to the College Credit for Heroes program and TTUHSC’s unique program for veterans with his military background.

“With the College Credit for Heroes grant, the university created the Veteran to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (VBSN) track, an accelerated program for veterans with prior military medical training and experiences who want to obtain a nursing degree,” said TTUHSC VBSN Director Debbie Sikes.

“Nick was among our first VBSN graduating class, which included six other students. Success of the VBSN track was demonstrated by all seven students passing the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) on their first attempt and becoming employed as registered nurses,” she said.

New 2017 programs that received funding through College Credit for Heroes

  • Dallas County Community College District — $262,977 to develop the Veterans Education Transition program, designed to create an accelerated transition to a civilian career by replicating existing programs developed by Grayson College and Lee College.
  • Houston Community College — $472,687 to develop a veterans academy for veterans and service members to assess prior military experiences and provide employment.
  • Lee College — $145,457 to establish an accelerated emergency medical technician program.
  • Texas State University — $145,495 to create Accelerate TXState, an online prior learning assessment curriculum

For more information about College Credit for Heroes partner schools or to register for the program, visit CollegeCreditForHeroes.org.

For more information on workforce programs available for Texas veterans, visit the TWC veterans’ resource page.

Expansion of Federal Tax Savings Program can help Employers save money each year

Qualified Long-Term Unemployment Recipient added to those eligible for Work Opportunity Tax Credit

Woman standing in doorway of restaurant smiling

Employers who hire a Qualified Long-Term Unemployment Recipient are now entitled to receive up to $2,400 in tax savings for each individual added to their payroll starting January 1, 2016. As part of the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015 (the PATH Act), this group was added to the list of targeted populations who qualify for the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC).

WOTC, a federal income tax benefit administered by the U.S. Department of Labor for employers, helps targeted workers move from economic dependency into self-sufficiency as they earn a steady income and become contributing taxpayers, while participating employers are able to reduce their income tax liability.

The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) assists employers by certifying the eligibility of individuals for this federal employer tax benefit. For more information regarding the WOTC program, visit the TWC WOTC web page.

Eligible groups, including the new Qualified Long Term Unemployment Recipients, for WOTC include:

  • Ex-felons
  • Residents of empowerment zones or rural renewal counties
  • Summer youth
  • Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) benefit recipients
  • Supplemental Security Income recipients
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipients
  • Vocational rehabilitation referrals
  • Long Term Family Assistance recipients
  • Veteran groups – Veterans receiving SNAP benefits, disabled and unemployed veterans

Each group has specific qualifications and employers can earn a tax credit from $1,200 to $9,600 per eligible employee hired, depending on which group the newly hired worker represents.

 

Transitioning from military service to civilian life

Anyone who can recall the difficult transitions of their youth will surely count among them the passage from elementary school to middle school. So many things are different and the routine is less rigid and familiar, and expectations are different and less defined. This can be particularly challenging if your reading level is a bit behind your peers. But a lucky group of students facing those circumstances at Davila Middle School in Bryan, Texas are benefitting from the mentorship of a Marine veteran who is all too familiar with making this kind of difficult transition under challenging circumstances.

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Melissa LeCounte, a disabled veteran of the Marine Corps, stands in her 6th grade classroom at Arthur L. Davila Middle School in Bryan, Texas. Photo courtesy of Workforce Solutions Brazos Valley.

For Melissa LeCounte, transitioning from military to civilian life was more than just packing up and moving from a military base to a quiet neighborhood in the suburbs; it also meant transitioning from familiar military duties to a new career in the civilian world.

LeCounte and her family moved to Bryan so that her husband could pursue a degree from Texas A&M University. An injury cut short her military career, creating an additional challenge. She had to adapt from the routine of military work and create her own pattern outside of that prescribed regimen.

The routine LeCounte developed was getting up every day and going to her local Workforce Solutions office to look for work. She began her job search by utilizing the many services available through Workforce Solutions Brazos Valley (Brazos Valley) to search for employment. She started the process by registering with Texas Workforce Commission’s (TWC) job-matching system WorkInTexas.com.

LeCounte attended several workshops, job clubs and met with the local Rural Veterans Career Advisor at the Texas Veterans Commission (TVC) who showed her how to transfer her military skills to job skills that would be noticed by employers. The Workforce Solutions network offers career assistance with resume building, interview skills and job coaching while connecting veterans with employers.

After securing a full time job, LeCounte enrolled in the Teacher Education Alternative Certification Host (TEACH) program at Blinn College to pursue a career in teaching. While working full time, LeCounte attended classes once a week for one year in preparation of obtaining her teaching certification.

Now, as a sixth grade reading teacher for Davila Middle School, she has found her niche in life working with students that face not only the transition to middle school, but the additional challenge of reading below grade level. LeCounte is elated with her new role as a teacher and uses stories from her military career, and life in general, to synthesize the students in what they are learning each day. After her first year, she was extremely proud that her students pushed beyond their challenges, just as she did, and mastered reading beyond their grade level. She received several educator awards including Rookie Teacher of the Year.

LeCounte’s advice to veterans transitioning from military service to the private sector in Texas, “Get to a Workforce Solutions office and sign up so that you can get the help you need to be successful. They don’t just tell you but will show you how to do it.”

To access information from your local Workforce Solutions webpage, visit TWC’s Workforce Development Board Website page. For information about TWC’s programs and services for veterans, visit the Just for Veterans Web page.

LeCounte’s story is featured in the Solutions Fall 2015 Quarterly Newsletter (access full issue)

Supporting Veterans in the Workplace

Job seekers meet with recruiters at the 2014 Hiring Red, White & You event at the Workforce Solutions Capital Area hiring event in Austin. Photo courtesy: Workforce Solutions Capital Area
Job seekers meet with recruiters at the 2014 Hiring Red, White & You event at the Workforce Solutions Capital Area hiring event in Austin. Photo courtesy: Workforce Solutions Capital Area

In recognition of Veterans Day, the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) thanks all veterans for their service and encourages Texas employers to hire our veterans and take advantage of the unique talents, skills and discipline that our nation’s returning soldiers can provide in a variety of industries and occupations.

TWC in partnership with 28 local workforce development boards and the Texas Veterans Commission, will host statewide veterans hiring fairs on Thursday, Nov. 12. TWC’s fourth annual Hiring Red, White & You! Statewide Hiring Fair is a joint initiative supported by the Office of the Governor, the Texas Medical Center and the Texas Veterans Commission to connect veterans and their spouses in Texas with employers who are seeking veterans’ exceptional skills. The multi-city event is designed to assist veterans, service members and their spouses as they seek their next career opportunity.

Over the past three years, Hiring Red, White & You! has connected more than 31,000 veterans with more than 4,700 employers. This year’s event will feature several prominent employers throughout the state, visit the Hiring Red, White & You! Hiring Fair website for a complete list of participating employers.

TWC is committed to working with its partners to help veterans transition to civilian life, by providing priority service at all Workforce Solutions offices, job placement advantages and training through a variety of initiatives and programs just for veterans.

How Texas Partners with Colleges to Provide College Credit for Veterans

IMG_0152 Jimmy Burnett CCFH Intern Grayson CollegeThe Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) recently announced the expansion of College Credit for Heroes project, awarding $800,000 to support five new accelerated accreditation programs, expanding the projects reach with new education partners and better meeting the needs of veteran students.

Launched as a pilot 2011, College Credit for Heroes partners with 37 universities and community colleges throughout Texas that recognize the knowledge and skills gained by military service members and award college credits for their military experience, allowing these veterans to more easily transition into the civilian workforce. College Credit for Heroes was designated as a permanent program with the passage of SB 806 in the 84th Legislative Session.

“We are pleased to announce the new accelerated programs that demonstrate a commitment to launching innovative approaches to better recognize and credit the training and service of our veterans,” said TWC Chairman Andres Alcantar. “TWC and our partners will continue to replicate and scale programs that ease the transition of our heroes into Texas jobs.”

The additional colleges and universities will further expand the College Credit for Heroes initiative to locations throughout Texas. This new collaboration will increase the number of veterans and service members who can benefit from the accelerated educational programs.

One of the new participants in College Credit for Heroes is Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC), which is developing an accelerated Veteran to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (VBSN) degree in which well-qualified veterans can complete program requirements in less than one year through rapid, online based curricula that students can complete at TTUHSC campuses located in Amarillo, Dallas and the Austin area beginning Spring 2016. Plans are to expand to Abilene and Odessa in 2017.

For a full list of participating colleges and academic opportunities available through College Credit for Heroes, visit: www.collegecreditforheroes.org.

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