Groups set to clear last hurdle for county veteran transitional program

Trash is seen along a Bakersfield, Calif., highway. (KBAK/KBFX photo, file)

A new program discussed in a Caltrans meeting Tuesday is designed to serve those who have served our country, and it could be starting earlier than expected.

The program pays veterans $13 for each hour of work for up to six months to clean up highways in a 60-mile radius between Bakersfield and Delano. It's mirrored after several similar programs around the state, including one that launched in Visalia earlier this month.

One of the program organizers, Marine Corps veteran Travis Sanchez, said approved applicants would also landscape and make fire break lines. Sanchez said he thinks transitional programs are important, because it gives veterans foundation job skills and a structured schedule.

"It's hard when you get out," Sanchez said. "You do not have that guidance. You do not have your brothers backing you up. You do not have a 24/7 structured day."

The program partners with Caltrans, Butte County Office of Education, Northern California Construction Training and a number of other organizations.

Sanchez said he hopes to start recruiting veterans in May, or as soon as organizers determine a staging area for projects. Interested veterans need to pass a drug test, have a copy of their DD Form 214 and be willing to work.

For more information on the back-to-work program click here.

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