Navy veteran Hernan Luis Y Prado was home on leave when he bumped into a fellow serviceman. The other man had lost the use of his legs, and Hernan was devastated to see someone he had served with struggle to return to civilian life.
“It hit me like a ton of bricks,” Hernan told Fox News. “There was nothing for these guys when they came back.”
Hernan and his wife sold everything they had to raise the funds to start his school, Workshops for Warriors.
Workshops for Warriors founder Hernan Luis Y Prado
The goal was simple: Train vets over a four-month period to work in trade programs such as welding and manufacturing, allowing them to take on good jobs with decent salaries. Jobs pay an average of $60,000 a year.
Graduates work at some major companies, includig Space X, Ford, Boeing and Tesla.
Workshops for Warriors boasts a 95% retention rate, meaning graduates are holding jobs four months after completing the program.
“Our school is a filter, not a pump,” Hernan said. The school provides support for students – including childcare and stipend, if needed – to help them complete their training.
“We will help to make sure that the only reason you don’t make it through the program is because you don’t want to make it,” he added.
The school was a five-year project from conception to accreditation, opening its doors in San Diego in 2008. Now, Workshops for Warriors is the largest accredited school for training, certification and placement for returning and former service members in America.
Workshops for Warriors helps more than veterans, though: The school trains military service members of all status, including Wounded Warriors and transitioning service members.
The program was highlighted by the Obama administration as a “Champion of Change“and the Trump administration for its work and impact. The success of Hernan’s school has been impressive enough that the school has been asked to open in over 100 locations around the country.
“There are 2.3 million unfilled jobs due to lack of skilled labor – and we lost 1.4 million manufacturing jobs during the start of the pandemic outbreak,” Hernan said. “How are you going to rebuild America’s workforce without a training pipeline?”
“We are training the trainers, who will then go to 100-plus schools across the country,” Hernan explained. He claimed that even if he did this with 700 schools, it would take 10 years to fill the backlog.
Workshops for Warriors is trying to raise money to help enlarge existing facilities and expand nationwide. Hernan says the goal is to open new facilities on the home campus as early as 2022.
“We’re going to take back our country, one veteran at a time.”