Veterans Vocational College
Veterans Vocational College When VeterHands was being created our charter was to ensure that Veterans entering our program received career certifications that were recognized by industry and accepted everywhere. At the same time, we want them to be in the company of other Veterans who have completed these certification programs – so our goal was for our staff to be hand picked from the cream of the crop graduating from our programs. We believe while certifications are nice to have – they don’t mean a lot without on the job experience. Our candidates stand head and shoulders above all other people that have newly acquired certifications because not only do we train our personnel, but we also put them through rigorous Internships where they gain real world on the job experience. Our veterans enter the work force with the experience necessary to convince other employers they are highly qualified candidates, not just individuals that have been newly certified.
In cooperation with Aldora in Cozumel, Mexico we’ve launched and operated our Veterans Dive College since January 2011, during which time we’ve run Veterans and Non-Veterans through our programs in order to get feedback and evaluate our curriculum, policies, personnel and facilities. Our Director of VeterHands Vocational Dive College and Professional SCUBA Certification Programs is Master Instructor Liang Chen. Together, we set up our program with specific quality related goals in order to produce the best personnel possible. While building out Veterhands Vocational College, we’ve had our eye on the prize: Gaining status with the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education & Training (ACCET) which will not only allow our candidates to gain actual credit, but also allow them to take advantage of Grants and other Federal funding and vocational programs. Over the last few years 23 students have completed out programs, with approximately half completing the Divemaster and Assistant Instructor Courses.
In Progress - ACCET Certification
ACCET Certification is the process under which Veterhands will meet the Quality Management requirements certified by the US Department of Education for Institutions planning to certify individuals under continuing education and training programs. ACCET has been officially recognized by the U.S. Department of Education since 1978 as a "reliable authority" as to the quality of education and training provided by the institutions accredited by them. We have formally started the ACCET Certification process. Over the next year we’ll improve and document the status of our curriculum, policies, personnel and facilities to meet and exceed the application standards. Once we have polished these areas for quality assurance, we will submit the application (Target: December 2015) and we will conduct the site review for our facilities in Dallas and in Cozumel and complete to be in target for full ACCET certification in early spring 2016.
James Cash has made good progress in his role. We’ve already started working on lining up instructors for our future programs – CHL Instructor, Certified Consulting Meteorologist and Professional Flight Instructor. Once our ACCET certification has been completed for the Diving Professional Certification Programs, we’ll immediately begin accreditation process for our other programs. In addition, Liang is currently working towards her PADI Course Director Certification which will allow us to complete our program set and add on the Open Water Instructor Curriculum.
Certified Consulting Meteorologist – VeterHands already works closely with veteran storm spotters and individuals working in the fields of meteorology. We also run an adventure tourism group called “ScudChasers” – who storm chase professionally to provide up front meteorological coverage of dangerous storms and provide themselves free of charge as certified emergency first responders. In addition ScudChasers also provide storm tours to those who want to learn more about storm spotting and experience storms up close. Our plans are to create a classroom course structure for Veterans, which consists of 30 Semester Hours of Atmospheric and Hydrological Sciences, on-the-job internship and preparation courses for the American Meteorological Society’s “Certified Consulting Meteorologist Program”.
CHL Instructor – Candidates will enter this path, which culminates in the successful candidate becoming a CHL Instructor. Check back soon for details. Professional
Private / Commercial Pilot with Focus on Unmanned Aircraft Systems - Candidates will enter this path, which culminates in the successful candidate becoming certified for Private and Commercial Operations of Unmanned Aircraft Systems. Check back soon for details.Current Major Courses of Study
Why should Veterans choose diving as a vocation? We believe Veterans are uniquely qualified for adventure sports and tourism like diving. Many veterans have already undergone intense training programs in the military that are similar in structure (Many of the first professional divers and dive instructors had military backgrounds and brought recreational diving to the public). In addition, many military members have spent many years overseas and are already accustomed to interacting with people of different cultures. Being in the military gives many of our candidates a head start on what they can achieve as a dive professional.
Our Diving Professional Certification programs consist of three levels of study and experience. The first level of certification is the PADI Dive Master certification. Individuals will go from the ground up – Open Water Diver all the way to Divemaster. They will acquire certifications for Emergency First Response and First Aid during this phase as well as PADI Open Water Diver, PADI Advance Open Water Diver, PADI Specialty Diver, PADI Rescue Diver and PADI Divemaster. The course setting is in our classroom facility located in Cozumel, Mexico with our partners, Aldora Divers.
The second level of training is our paid internship program. All candidates will become paid interns and will be placed with real dive shops working with real customers. Our internship is rigorous and also highly structured. All individuals will obtain a standardized set of professional gear and knowledge modules which will propel them towards our third level of certification: PADI Assistant Instructor.
Our third module, the Assistant Instructor course, will test every candidate. It is designed to stress professionalism and spans the course of several months. During this time our candidates will be given both classroom knowledge and real world instructor scenarios, which again, set our candidates up for complete success.
Project Plan and Roadmap
As previously stated, our first program is centered in the professional diving community. We chose this program because PADI programs are certified as college level courses and are ACE certified. (Source: PADI)
In addition the dive industry increased new recreational divers last year in the United States by approximately 150,000 new Open Water divers with an estimated revenue stream of approximately $220 Million US Dollars. (Source: DEMA: “Fast Facts: Recreational Scuba Diving and Snorkeling”)
The Commercial Diving Industry boasts a Median Annual Wage of approximately $48,000, which is on par with many Civil Engineering Professions (Source: US Department of Labor, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2013)
We have partnered with Aldora Divers in Cozumel, Mexico to use their facilities at the Villa Aldora as our classroom, from which veterans Drew, James and Iban have all graduated. Aldora boasts top notch facilities and location for pursuing diving education. In addition, Aldora also maintains a very successful and long running Dive Shop and Hotel, where our students and Interns will receive additional on the job training and instruction.
VeterHands is 100% funded by individual donations. We have a four-year track record of operation, during which we have raised over $150,000 to fund our operation to date. We have used these funds to develop not only our Dive Professional Operation, but also our Meteorological Professional Operation. If donors are interested, we involve them in our processes 100%. Our donors help meet and interact professionally with our Veterans in order to give them intense on the job feedback for their professional development.
Major Budget Items are:
- ACCET Certification – Approximately $17,850 USD consisting of:
- • Initial Accreditation Applicant Certification Visit - $6000
- • Travel Expenses - $5000
- • Program Revision Fees (For adding/expanding program offering - $2200
- • Application for Initial Accreditation - $2000
- • Initial Accreditation Applicant Readiness Visit - $1900
- • Accreditation Workshop Fees - $650
- • Inquiry Questionnaire Review - $100
- Course Director Certification – Approximately $13,500 consisting of:
- • CDTC Exam - $8500 • EFR Instructor Trainer - $1500
- • PADI Awareness Programs and Fundraising - $3500
Miscellaneous Expenses – Approximately $2000 for Supplies and Misc Travel
- Total Program Budget: $33,350 Current donations: $17,500
- Remaining Goal: $15,850
- Status: YELLOW – 47% Funded