Electronic Recycling Program Gives Veterans Work, Hope.

E-waste, old computers, modems and other electronics are getting a second chance and so are some local veterans thanks to a new program, Vet Tech.US. It is illegal to dump computers and certain other electronics in the trash. But now you can turn your trash into a treasure with a free program that is using those items to help veterans find jobs.

Class is in session in this south suburban Lansing warehouse but these students are not young college co-eds. They are mature veterans, and many of them are also unemployed. “It’s because of this program that I was able to start getting work,” Air Force veteran Chris Hawkins said.

They are taking apart discarded computers and learning to rebuild them to earn valuable certifications. Vietnam-era veteran David Holle was homeless but now he installs computer programs for a major insurance company. “It lets me find something more steady than I’ve been able to find before,” Holle said.

The program is the brainchild of Peter Polus who turned his hobby of rebuilding computers using other people’s scraps into way to give back. “How can you repay the veterans for what they’ve done for our country? This is what I do to serve them for having served us,” Polus said. Polus teamed up with investor Marvin Keeling. The Keeling Family Foundation backs the program so veterans can participate for free.

“What we really wanted to try to do is train them specifically to get them back into the work stream and to give them some of their pride back and to help them start earning a living,” Marvin Keeling said.

Participants said they are grateful for the program and hopeful about finding jobs. “It actually makes you feel better about your service, that people actually care about it,” Army Veteran Robert Catrone said.

About 100 veterans have been placed in jobs so far. Organizers hope to expand the program to add a downtown location.


Source: Hosea Sanders, ABC News 7, Chicago, Jan. 25, 2013

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