Able Forces to fill MMC offices, train veterans

Friday, September 14, 2012

By Clint Confehr

Senior Staff Writer

A non-profit organization that trains and lands jobs for wounded military veterans will open a location in second floor offices at Marshall Medical Center, according to announcements Tuesday in Lewisburg.

"A contract is not signed with the medical center, but we are in agreement to move forward," said Skip Rogers, a retired Army colonel serving as executive director of Able Forces, the non-profit group represented in Rock Creek Park during a 9/11 remembrance ceremony.

Able Forces was created to provide employment and training for disabled veterans capable of working in jobs that require intelligence, regardless of whether they're ambulatory.

"In the last 13 months, we have grown as a company with three employees. Now, we have 80," Rogers told hundreds of people assembled at the park stage.

Lewisburg is to be the third training center for Able Forces. The others are at Washington, D.C., and in Northern Virginia. Able Forces has paying positions for veterans who complete the program. The jobs are court reporting positions that range from stenographic work to audio and video recording of trials.

"We will cultivate real employment in real careers," Rogers said.

Some veterans helped by Able Forces include a network administrator, working with the highest security clearance, he said.

"You can be disabled, but that doesn't mean you can't work," Rogers said.

"There are guys who are making $80,000 a year," he said.

For months, Lewisburg Economic Developer Greg Lowe has been speaking to city leaders about the use of space at the medical center on North Ellington Parkway, but details were never mentioned. Rogers said he was assisted here by Lowe; Mike Wiles of the Joint Economic and Community Development Board; Gulf War I veteran Billy Spivey, who's running for a state House seat; County Mayor Joe Boyd Liggett; and retired Police Chief Wayne Coomes, a former Marine.

Able Forces' program could have been established in Nashville, but organizers were persuaded to locate it in Lewisburg so the town could benefit economically from the influx and rotation of people.

Rogers anticipates veterans will live at local motels while they're in training at MMC.