Two U.S. veterans who have struggled with homelessness are being given a second chance to rebuild their lives thanks to a community partnership that empowers the men to master advanced coding and computer programming skills.
The grassroots initiative makes it possible for the ex-servicemen to complete an 8-week intensive, full-time, coding course at Tech Talent South’s offices in metropolitan Atlanta, where they will learn everything from HTML/CSS to Ruby on Rails.
“We have seen coding change lives, and we are excited to extend that opportunity to our veterans who truly need it,” says Richard Simms, co-founder of Tech Talent South (TTS), a coding boot camp dedicated to fostering talent in technology throughout the Southeast. “We hope to give them a valuable skill set that helps them get back on their feet.”
The initiative, a partnership between Tech Talent South, Back on My Feet, Homegrown, Veterans Empowerment Organization, Accenture, and UrbanGeekz, will serve as a lifeline for both men who have faced tough times since leaving the armed forces. The nonprofit organization Back on My Feet received a grant from Accenture to put the homeless vets through the TTS course.
Originally from Chicago, Buddy Holston, 58, joined the armed forces in 1980 and served for a decade. He says he is thrilled by the chance to gain the skills needed to start a career in technology.
“I’m really excited about this,” says Holston. “I hope to become proficient in coding and be able to make practical use of those skills. After Tech Talent South, I hope to obtain employment and also share what I learn with others, particularly those in underserved communities.”
In fact, according to US News, the Labor Department considers web development to be one of the fastest-growing careers this decade, and it predicts employment will swell by about 20 percent by 2022. Given that demand, the training gives the men an opening to get back on track and boost their job prospects.
Holston says he has always had an interest in technology. While living at the Veterans Empowerment Organization, he even began trying to build his own Google App.
“I started tinkering with my first bike. I took it apart just to put it back together. It’s the same with toy trains and tape recorders. Throughout high school and college, I liked engineering, math, and science. I always wanted to learn more.”
Atlanta native Darionne Lee, 29, received training from Job Corps before joining the armed forces in 2009. He served for 3 years. He has also worked as a Machine and Forklift Operator and dabbled in AutoCAD Programming.
“I hope to break into the tech field,” says Lee. “I have always been interested in technology. When I was in the service, I was exposed to so many different technologies and types of programs. I definitely want to learn more.”
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