Homeless war veteran finds success through HCC Southwest
The road to recovery has been a long one for Houstonian and U.S. Navy veteran, John Gay. In 2012, the Vietnam veteran found himself homeless, bankrupt and abandoned. Thanks to Gay’s determination, coupled with the Houston Community College Foundation and its Veteran’s Retraining Assistance Program (VRAP), one of our heroes is on his way to previously unimagined success.
In 2012, at 55 years old, Gay enrolled at Houston Community College Southwest to study network communications with a focus on cyber security. Today, the previously homeless war veteran has the potential of earning an annual income of $50,000.
“The returning veteran is a very important member of the student body at HCC Southwest,” HCC Southwest President, Dr. Fena Garza said. “Helping Houston’s veterans re-enter the workforce is an essential part of our commitment to the community. That means all veterans: Viet Nam, Iraq and most recently, veterans from Afghanistan. We help them all.”
Unfortunately, Gay’s story is not unusual. The Navy vet received a degree at Texas Southern University in 1991 but, as the recession progressed, he could not find work in his field. Gay found himself struggling to pay bills, and eventually his home was foreclosed, his family evicted.
VRAP was created by U.S. Congress to help the thousands of American veterans in similar situations. The “Vow to Hire Hero’s Act of 2011” helped Gay with tuition. Gay had the golden opportunity to return to college and secure a degree in a field with abundant opportunities.
“We have many workforce programs that vary in length from 12 weeks, to two years, and offer a high degree of percent placement after completion,” HCC Southwest Dean of Workforce and Economic Development, Dr. Anthony Hancock said. “Our programs offer veterans exactly what they need to succeed in today’s economy.”
Gay recently applied for and received an internship with the Jacobs Engineering Firm in Houston. He is elated. “I hope in the future I can find some way to help other veteran’s in transition,” Gay said. “(I want) to help men and women who have served our nation; help them pick themselves up and move forward as leaders. After all, we have been trained to be.”
For more information for veterans, or to apply for veterans’ programs at HCC Southwest, visit www.hccs.edu/district/students/va/
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