Military Veterans Find New Career Paths
U.S. Rep. Fattah to Host May 23 Veterans Conference at Community College of Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA, May 22, 2012 — When 17-year-old Jason Mays joined the U.S. Army in February 2001, the recruiters asked him which job he wanted. Mays replied quickly that he wanted to build robots.

“They laughed and said ‘Son, that’s not something the Army does,’” recalls Mays, who was among the first U.S. troops to enter Iraq in 2003. There, he and his platoon repaired electronic and communications equipment, worked with the base chaplain to keep up morale, and guarded prisoners of war. All the while, he continued to think about his dream job: building robots.

Today, Mays is studying Engineering Science at Community College of Philadelphia—his first step toward a career in robotics. Uncle Sam is picking up the tab for tuition. The 28-year-old veteran received a medical discharge from the Army in 2010.

Mays is among the more than 500,000 veterans who have been leaving military posts for college campuses under the Post-9/11 GI Bill and a bevy of other programs administered by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Approximately 550 veterans were enrolled in classes during the Spring 2012 term, according to Stephen Bachovin, coordinator for Community College of Philadelphia’s Veterans Resource Office (VRO).

In an effort to assist these and other veterans making life transitions, U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah will host “The Fattah Veterans Conference” at the Main Campus from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Wednesday, May 23. The free event will be held in the Great Hall in the Winnet Student Life Building on 17th Street between Spring Garden and Callowhill streets. The Fattah Veterans Conference will offer all veterans an opportunity to connect with key public agencies and with the VRO.

Community College of Philadelphia is recognized as a Military-Friendly College by Military Advanced Education, a magazine for retired military. The College has a variety of programs to support veteran success, as well as their spouses and dependents. “The veteran population has increased 20 percent every semester since the VRO opened in September 2009,” Bachovin says.

The College’s Veterans Resource Office is located in the Winnet Student Life Building, Room S1-19. Call 215 496-8462 for more information, email vro@ccp.edu or visit the office at www.ccp.edu/site/current/registration/veterans/veterans_resource_office.php.

Mays, president of Community College of Philadelphia’s Veterans Club, predicts the number of student veterans will continue to rise. “Virtually every veteran I’ve ever met talks about getting the most out of school,” he says. “They are determined.”