When the Georgia General Assembly passed a nearly $26 billion state budget for fiscal 2021 last week, it paved the way for Atlanta-area military veterans to receive new support and career training.

Documents show the new budget will provide funding for a Georgia Veterans Career Transition Resource (VECTR) Center in Cobb County. If signed by Gov. Brian Kemp, the budget will allocate $2.25 million in state funds to renovate part of Chattahoochee Technical College’s Marietta Campus, outfitting the technical school for veteran-specific training programs.

State Sen. Michael Rhett, D-Marietta, one of the lawmakers involved in adding the VECTR Center to the state budget, said his Air Force experience inspired his support for the center.

“I retired from the Air Force Reserve at Dobbins Air Reserve Base,” Rhett said, “and one of my jobs was career adviser, to help men and women make the transition from their military career to their civilian career.”

Rhett said a new VECTR Center in Cobb County will serve those from every branch of the military. The center will include programs for veterans to learn new skills in plumbing, electrical and technology fields. The senator believes Chattahoochee Technical College will be an important partner for the VECTR Center because it already has programs to certify people in those industries.

Now that the Legislature has passed its budget, the potential VECTR Center can become a reality. Kemp plans to signs the budget, House Bill 793, at the Capitol on Tuesday morning.

“(Gov. Kemp) is totally for and supportive of this,” said Cobb Chamber of Commerce Chairman John Loud.

Loud first spoke with Kemp about bringing a VECTR Center to Cobb in a 2019 meeting at the Capitol. During the meeting, Loud made the center one of his top points of conversation.

Loud said the new facility would attract retired military veterans from across the state and country to metro Atlanta. He expects skilled workers from the military to seek out the VECTR training programs to earn certification and begin their civilian careers.

“We, as a state, get to get this work force to come here, stay here and then get jobs within all of our small businesses,” Loud said.

The center would resemble a similar facility in Warner Robins, Loud said. According to the VECTR website, the center in Warner Robins “can help translate your military and civilian transcripts into potential credits towards certificates, diplomas and degrees.” The Warner Robins VECTR Center offers “accelerated training programs at little to no cost if you are a resident or are stationed in Georgia.”

Loud said several state lawmakers, including Rep. David Wilkerson, D-Powder Springs, Rep. Bert Reeves, R-Marietta, and Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick, R-east Cobb, worked with Rhett to add the center to the state budget.

“We work in a bipartisan manner to support our veterans,” Rhett said.

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