Caliber Collision announced that nine soldiers at Ft. Bragg will be completing their military service and returning to civilian life fully armed with a $2,500 toolbox, employment offer and a new career in the fast-growing collision industry thanks to its Changing Lanes program.
Developed in partnership with Fayetteville Technical Community College (FTCC) and Ft. Bragg’s Career Skills Program, Changing Lanes is the first program in the country to provide active-duty service members with training and employment opportunities in the collision repair industry prior to transitioning out of the U.S. Armed Forces.
Graduation ceremonies were held for the first cohort class of Caliber Collision’s Changing Lanes program on Friday, March 17 at Fayetteville Technical Community College.
All nine members of this first graduating class have accepted employment offers at Caliber Collision locations in North Carolina, California and Florida.
The 18-week hands-on-training course is offered free to transitioning soldiers. Participants earn industry accreditation I-CAR points through a combination of instruction at FTCC’s Automotive Collision Repair Facility along with a “real world” internship at one of the Caliber Collision’s Fayetteville production centers.
“Caliber’s Changing Lanes program provides transitioning soldiers with rewarding collision repair careers while allowing us to bring on board teammates who share in our core values as we become the collision repair provider of choice in every community we serve,” said Steve Grimshaw, Caliber Collision CEO.
Added Ty Gammill, Caliber Collision vice president of client services, “Changing Lanes represents an extension of Caliber’s continued commitment to the military community that today includes our support of American Airlines Sky Ball, Carry the Load, 22Kill, Heroes on The Water, Allies in Service along with our donation of more than 100 vehicles to military families in need of reliable transportation,”
A highlight of the graduation ceremonies was the presentation of a 2010 Chevrolet Cobolt donated by State Farm, which the Changing Lanes participants repaired and refurbished for a military veteran.
The vehicle donation is part of the National Auto Body Council Recycled Rides program where collision repairers, insurance agents and partners team up to donate and repair vehicles to individuals in need of reliable transportation. Over the past four years that Caliber Collision has participated in the program, the company has donated over 130 vehicles valued at $1.7 million dollars through its Recycled Rides program.
The Caliber Recycled Rides recipient was Monique Martin, an honorably discharged Air Force Reservist who had recently experienced a number of difficulties in her life. With support from Veterans Services of the Carolinas, which nominated her for the Recycled Rides program, she now has housing and a new vehicle to help restore her to the rhythm of a better life.
As a commitment to the Changing Lanes program, Fayetteville Technical Community College has donated a 2,100-sq.-ft. building for the program’s exclusive use as a training facility. Caliber is also building a 10,000 sq.-ft. permanent Changing Lanes Training Center equipped with state-of-the art technology exclusively for this innovative training program.
A second cohort is underway in Fayetteville with an early May graduation. Expanding nationally, Caliber’s Changing Lanes will also launch at Ft. Hood in Killeen, Texas, with the first cohort training beginning in mid-April.