BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — The Wounded Heroes Fund is working on a new program that helps veterans transition back into life at home while learning some new skills.
Called Shift 6, the program will work with local auto shops to give veterans automotive skills while learning alongside each other.
“It gives you a greater sense of purpose and comradery because you know that you have that support to be able to accomplish the things you want to," said Assistant Grant Coordinator Curtis Rutledge.
Rutledge grew up working on cars with his grandfather and continued to do so while serving 12 years in the Army. Now he wants to share that passion with fellow veterans and show them new ways to apply themselves.
"Our big thing, you know, is trying to help veterans in any way that we can. This is what I find, doing stuff, working with my hands, gives myself a greater sense of purpose and really helping others, it kind of ties together," he said.
Executive Director Wendy Porter said veterans can feel a bit lost after serving in the military. This program can give them a sense of direction.
“A lot of people think, well, what I did in the military isn’t going to transfer to civilian life, and that's actually not true," said Porter.
Participants will work with local auto shops to learn skills like welding, body work and painting.
Due to COVID-19, the program will take place outside with face masks and social distancing enforced.
Right now, Rutledge and Porter are gathering more participants, and will launch the program when they feel there is enough interest. Rutledge says he can’t wait to see it become a reality.
“To see it come, to start to blossom, it's another... I can't explain it. It’s another form of joy," Rutledge said.
All veterans from all backgrounds will be welcomed into this program and it will cater to each person’s individual interests. The program will be funded locally by the Wounded Heroes Fund, free for any veteran to join.
Whether you’re interested in participating, teaching or supporting Shift 6, Rutledge says he would love to hear your thoughts on making this program happen. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.