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Petty Officer 2nd Class Mark Dotson, a corpsman with Task Force 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marines, Regimental Combat Team 5, attends a graduation ceremony at the Vocational Training Center in Husaybah, Iraq, June 1. The school graduated 244 students during their third cycle, compared to an average of 162 from two previous classes.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Joshua Murray

Vocational center graduates 244

1 Jun 2008 | Lance Cpl. Joshua Murray

Everyday, the streets here bustle with activity. Locals are building new homes and improving buildings damaged in the past. The people here are slowly rebuilding their community and 244 trained workers can now lend a helping hand.  

The Vocational Training Center, located here, teaches men a variety of skills from welding to basic computer knowledge that they can use to improve themselves and their community. The third group to complete the training received graduation certificates here, June 1.

“You should all be very proud of yourselves,” said Lt. Col. Steven J. Grass, the battalion commander with Task Force 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marines, Regimental Combat Team 5, who spoke at the ceremony. “You’ve been given a unique opportunity, and I encourage you to make good use of it.”

The center has held three periods of instruction since they began teaching in August 2007. The center graduated an average of 162 students between the first two courses and 244 pupils from the third course.

“I see hundreds of Iraqis that could improve the lives of thousands in Iraq,” Grass said. “You will all have a hand in improving the lives of your families and your tribes.”

All three graduating classes can take part in improving Iraq by using the skills they have learned. Classes included welding, plumbing, electrical and basic construction skills. 

For this latest class that graduated, the center instituted five new classes: floor tiling, household repairs, motor winding, air conditioning and a computer course joined the seven construction skills originally available for study.

“You began with seven courses and expanded them to twelve,” said Grass. “I am sure that (the) Al Qa’im (region) will prosper as you put all of these skills to use.”

After graduation, the Iraqis have the choice between working on their own, or attending a three month apprenticeship course.

As with most new endeavors, changes occur resulting from trial and error. Directors have discussed replacing some of the current courses, and the next group of students can choose between day and night classes.

“They are trying to appeal to the majority,” said Army Staff Sgt. Christopher Ruhl, a member of the Military Information Support Team with 2nd Bn., 2nd Marines. “Through the last cycle, they found more of a desire from students for other useful courses.”

Based on student’s opinions, the center has made changes to accommodate their needs. The center will begin its fourth cycle on July 1 and apply the new changes hoping to double the number of graduates that can set out to improve living conditions for themselves and all of Iraq.