One Texas veteran has an extra reason to be thankful this holiday season.
James Brown received the surprise of his life this week. The Ford Motor Company announced Brown as the recipient of a full two-year scholarship to the Ford Automotive Student Service Educational Training (ASSET) program, which trains Ford’s service technicians.
James Brown is an Air Force veteran, a former drug and bomb dog handler who has combatted dependence on alcohol and pain medication. He’s also experienced homelessness. The Salvation Army gave him the opportunity for a warm and safe home, and the opportunity to start focusing on what he needs to achieve longer term stability. His scholarship from Ford to the ASSET program is his next step up.
Upon completion of Ford’s ASSET program Brown will have an Associates of Applied Science Degree as an Automotive Service Technician. This scholarship from Ford comes with a guaranteed a job at Sam Pack’s Five Star Ford of Carrollton, near Dallas. Brown will apply his skills to keep vehicles moving, including Ford electric vehicles.
580,000 veterans without stable housing or work
Shocking, right? Brown is just one of the many who faced challenges upon his return home and found himself experiencing homelessness. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, there were 580,000 veterans without stable housing as of January 2020, and Black veterans made up about one-third of all veterans dealing with unstable housing, according to the Military Times.
I’m also an Air Force veteran; I have more than 25 years of service. I don’t know James Brown personally. I don’t know all the details of his service or what we do or don’t have in common. I’d venture to guess that he is proud of his service, just as I am. Perhaps that’s enough common ground to explain why this initiative toward helping a veteran who has had a bumpy transition back to civilian life gives me all the feelings.
So when I see a big dog like the Ford Motor Company stepping up to help veterans, it means a lot. Will my next vehicle be a Ford? I don’t know but I do know I remember which companies support veterans when it comes time to make purchases. I’m also likely to mention this to other veterans or military members in my circle so they’ll know who supports us.
Ford’s ASSETs are its people–as well as this program
The company calls this program ASSET, which is more like a college degree program that qualifies someone to work on Ford vehicles. But it also builds its human assets by giving them solid skills to keep Ford customers moving.
ASSET program instructors are certified by Ford to teach all Ford Technical Training Courses. Over 24 months, students earn an associate degree in automotive technology. All students are dealer sponsored and will have one year of dealership experience upon graduation. The program alternates between in classroom learning and hands-on learning at a Ford or Lincoln dealership.
ASSET students receive Ford Service Technician Specialty training, to include servicing electric vehicles.
If you’re interested in more info about where Ford’s ASSET program is offered, read here.
What this means for Ford dealerships
“We’re Proud to partner with Ford, the NFL, the Dallas Cowboys and The Salvation Army on this program to deliver life changing experience to Mr. Brown,” said Sam Pack of Sam Pack’s Five Star Ford of Carrollton where Mr. Brown will work after training. “He is a veteran who has faced some challenges in trying to get home and experienced homelessness. In the spirit of working with Ford on something that’s very important to us in what we can do for veterans, it’s a natural thing for us. We’re proud to be involved in it. It meets a serious need from the standpoint of our dealerships. We’re always looking for technicians.”
Ford dealers need expert technicians to keep the vehicles moving for their customers. According to Pack, the ASSET program is one of the most important programs his dealership has been involved in.
“Texas was the second state to introduce the program, the first was Florida,” explains Pack. “In Texas, we started in the DFW market in partnership with Dallas County Community College at the time. I don’t know where we would be today without the program. We at the dealership group, as a result of this program, have 58 technicians currently” who are either a graduate of the program or currently enrolled.
Ford’s community focus
The scholarship from Ford for Brown doesn’t stand alone. Ford has a solid history of being community focused.
When Texas experienced severe winter storms and power outages this past February, Ford stepped in. Ford asked its Texas Ford dealers to loan out trucks with generators to aid Texas residents without power.
Ford’s 2021 F-150 models with Pro Power Onboard have a 2 kilowatt generator in the back. Lucky Texans who had a brand-new Ford truck with this feature struggled a little bit less during the power outages. With approximately 400 trucks with generators in dealer inventory across the state, Ford saw the opportunity to help people who’d been without the ability to heat their homes, cook, or bathe power their homes.
A commitment to strengthening communities
Debra Hotaling of Ford Regional Communications had this to say about the company’s community service investment and how it applies to the program Brown is about to be a part of:
“We’ve remained committed to strengthening the communities where we live and work for more than for 118 years, and our commitments will only continue to grow. For example, Ford is investing $90-million in Texas training centers over the next five years that will help grow the technician industry, and provide jobs. Ford plans to increase the number of schools in Texas participating in the technician programs by 60% and increase the number of dealers partnering with schools by 50%.
In addition, by leveraging the power and expertise of the Ford Motor Company network – our employees, Ford dealers and community partners, as well as our philanthropic arm the Ford Motor Company Fund (Ford Fund) – we provide resources and opportunities that make life better.”
More about Salvation Army’s Home Sweet Home Program
The Salvation Army’s Home Sweet Home program seeks to reach out to newly homeless families or those at risk of imminent homelessness and lead them not only to stable housing and self-sufficiency, but also provide life skills and employment resources to fully impact their lives in a positive and caring manner.
See how it all unfolds during this heartwarming video about Mr. Brown’s scholarship from Ford that aired at halftime during the Dallas Cowboys vs. Las Vegas Raiders game on Thanksgiving Day: