FORT MOORE, Ga. (WRBL) — Last week, a local nonprofit hosted the ribbon cutting ceremony for its brick-and-mortar building. Although the Veterans Training and Empowerment Center (VTEC) nonprofit was established in 2017, this is the first time it will be able to offer hands-on instruction to students.

VTEC aims to provide technical job training and soft skills training to out-processing military members, veterans, military spouses, law enforcement and other civilians. The priority of the school is providing out-processing military members and veterans with skills for acquiring work in the civilian world, in which skills learned in the service may not always translate.

“For me personally, I definitely want to give back to my fellow veterans, fellow military families,” said VTEC CEO David Gallemore, who previously served in the Army.

He said VTEC’s mission embodies the saying about “pulling oneself up by one’s own bootstraps,” giving veterans, their families and other locals looking to gain technical skills the experience they need to get jobs and support their families.  

The VTEC building was supposed to open earlier, however plans were delayed due to COVID and other unforeseen obstacles. According to Gallemore and VTEC Vice President of Field Operations and Training Bierck Saxton, the roof of the building originally set to house VTEC collapsed as the team prepared it for opening. It took some time, but Fort Moore was able assign the project a new building which was then renovated for VTEC and officially opened on Oct. 13.

“Reaching out to the soldiers as they’re getting out in the [technical] field, we’re again setting them up for success,” said Saxton, an Army veteran himself.

According to information provided by VTEC, students learn plumbing repair, electrical repair, smart home and automation upgrades, drywall repair and light construction, appliance installation and repair, smart TV repair and more.

Courses at VTEC last eight weeks, according to Saxton. The instructor explained class days include lots of hands-on learning, although he occasionally hopes to use them for team building activities, like paintball. Saxton hopes to eventually fill his classroom with a full roster of 30 eager students.  

Gallemore expressed hiring veterans can also be an advantage for employers. He reported former service members often have incredible work ethics and tend to receive high customer service and satisfaction ratings from customer due to their ability to work efficiently and courteously.

The VTEC team chose Fort Moore for their campus in part because the base has resources which would allow veterans and out-processing soldiers to live on post while taking VTEC classes.

Despite some bad weather on Friday, Gallemore added the ribbon cutting ceremony went “great.” It was held inside VTEC’s building to avoid rain at 1 p.m. In celebration of the grand opening, VTEC also held a reception in Columbus for any interested community members from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Marriot. VTEC plans to host more community outreach events in the coming weeks in an effort to spur registration.