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Ft. Hood soldiers jump start civilian careers with training, employment offers in collision industry

Monday, August 21, 2017 - 07:00
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After 26 years in the U.S. Army, Master Sergeant Michael Sadler had been stressed about his upcoming retirement from service.
“Transitioning into civilian life is hard for someone like me. All I’ve known is the military. So there was a lot of worry about what am I going to do. I know I want and need to work and keep busy, but my biggest fear was finding a job that I would like,” Sadler said.
Sadler is one of 13 Ft. Hood soldiers nearing completion of their military service who graduated  this past week from Caliber Collision’s Changing Lanes program, an innovative training designed to provide skills and tools for a successful new career in the fast-growing collision repair industry.

Soldiers from the first graduating cohort of Caliber Collision’s Changing Lanes program at Ft. Hood repaired and presented a Recycled Rides vehicle to U.S. Army veterans Patrick and Antoinette Dombroski and their children.

These soldiers comprise Ft. Hood’s first graduating cohort of Changing Lanes which provides active duty service members with free training, certification and employment opportunities prior to transitioning out of the U.S. Armed Forces.
“I have been amazed at the abundance of information and training we have received in a short period of time,” said Nate McGuire, another Changing Lanes participant with 11 years in the service. “I feel that we have been set up for success, that we are just not going out there on our own. We have the skills and training to earn income right away.”
The 18-week hands-on-training course is offered free to transitioning soldiers at Caliber’s dedicated Changing Lanes Training Academy in Killeen, TX.  Participants earn industry accredited I-CAR points through a combination of class instruction and hands-on training experience. All 13 soldiers in this first Ft. Hood cohort have received employment offers at Caliber locations, primarily in Central Texas, and will start their careers armed with a $12,000 toolbox.
“Transitioning into civilian life is one of the most stressful times for soldiers and their families. Changing Lanes is so powerful because it gives back to our soldiers what they want and deserve the most – the ability to continue to take care of their families and maintain their quality of life. We can’t thank Caliber enough for showing our soldiers how much we appreciate their sacrifices,” said Charles Green, Director of Human Resources at Ft. Hood.
“Changing Lanes is an absolute win-win for our military heroes and Caliber,” said Steve Grimshaw, Caliber Collision Chief Executive Officer. “Transitioning soldiers gain valuable skills to jump start a rewarding collision repair career. Caliber Collision benefits from bringing on board teammates whose military training and background mirrors our core values and commitment to provide complete satisfaction as we restore the rhythm of lives.”
Caliber’s Changing Lanes program first launched earlier this year at Ft. Bragg in Fayetteville, North Carolina.  The company anticipates enrollment of 200 additional soldiers by the end of this year at Ft. Hood, Ft. Bragg and other military installations throughout the country, and an overall goal to train 500 soldiers per year beginning in 2018.
Soldiers Refurbish, Donate Car for Veteran Family
A highlight of the graduation ceremonies was the presentation of a 2016 Honda Civic, which the Changing Lanes cohort refurbished for Killeen veterans Antoinette and Patrick Dombroski who together have 16 years of service.
Antoinette was medically retired two years ago, and has been unable to work, resulting in financial strain for the family. Recently their only car broke down, leaving Patrick, Antoinette and their children, ages 7 and 9, to rely on bus, foot or rides from family and friends.
The vehicle donation is part of Caliber’s Recycled Rides program in partnership with the National Auto Body Council where collision repair industry businesses team up to donate and repair vehicles to individuals in need of reliable transportation.

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