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Savannah Tech program free to military spouses
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CDL instructor Ola Blanton talks about her program at Military Spouse Day at Savannah Tech. - photo by Photo by Randy C. Murray

Savannah Technical College recently conducted a Military Spouse Day presentation at the Paul R. Smith Education Center.

Military spouses heard about three programs being offered free to qualified military-spouse applicants.

Jeff Ashmen, a retired Army command sergeant major who now is military outreach coordinator with Savannah Tech, said the program fills a need both for spouses and employers.

“There are a great deal of programs and support with job assistance for separating service members, but you rarely hear about programs specifically for spouses of our active-duty (service members),” Ashmen said. “Wanting to help our military spouses, Savannah Technical College has partnered with Army Community Services, Coastal Workforce Investment Board and our (local) economic development authorities to offer job training and assistance with job placement to our military spouses.”

Ashmen said the program focuses on careers that are in high demand in the region and that qualify for state and federal grants to fund the training. Military spouses in any one of the high-demand programs have a greater opportunity of getting a job in that field, he said.

“Our job doesn’t end when the training is completed,” Ashmen said. “We’ve partnered with local employers who are looking for these skills and will help graduating spouses gain interviews with participating employers. Our first three (program) courses are for Logistics and Warehousing, Basic Law Enforcement and Commercial Truck Driver. We hope to bring more programs to spouses in the months ahead.”

During the April 16 presentation, spouses learned the next Logistics and Warehousing class starts on May 11. CDL Instructor Ola Blanton told them their next class starts June 1, and Basic Law Enforcement Chief Thomas Safrin said their next class starts June 29.

Blanton said students who complete the two-month long CDL course earn nine semester credit hours while completing 220 combined total hours behind the wheel. She said the course is divided into four sections: fundamental commercial driving, combined vehicle basic operations/range week, combined vehicle advance operations and Georgia State CDL testing. Savannah Tech is a Georgia-designated 3rd party test center.

“When you complete this course, you will have your CDL,” Blanton said. “We test you right here at our campus… (With a CDL), you can make anywhere between $42,000 and $50,000 your first year. That’s pretty good… You’re the spouses, so if you want to, you can get started with a company (before your spouse leaves the service). Or (he or she) can come home and do the training then go with you to a company as a team.”

She explained the commercial driver’s license course is offered at Savannah Tech’s Effingham and Liberty campuses. Both day and night classes are offered during the summer semester, which runs from June 1 to July 31.

Safrin said the law-enforcement program consists of 13 college courses totaling 42 credit hours. He said this represents roughly half the courses required for an associate degree in criminal justice.

Savannah Tech’s basic law-enforcement program students earn certification as a basic peace officer with additional certifications as a radar operator, LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) operator, standardized field-sobriety-test operator, “verbal” judo and advanced firearms. The course prepares students for jobs as municipal police officer or sheriff’s deputy, airport police officer, port-authority police officer, college- or university-police officer, school-resource officer, probation officer and security guard, he said.

“I can’t tell you the times I’ve had conversations over my lifetime with folks who’ve said, ‘Yeah, I’ve always thought about being a police officer, but …,’” Safrin said. “I’ve even seen folks who’ve completed a whole other career, then ended up in law enforcement. So as I talk with you this morning, I just want you to visualize yourself in a uniform as a police officer.”

“We’re not just preparing you for a job,” Safrin continued. “We’re not just preparing you for a career. We’re setting you up for success. The minimum requirement (for a law-enforcement program) in the state of Georgia is a 408-hour training program. Our program is 700 hours.”
For more information, call Ashmen at 443-4155.

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