Marsalis Leonard didn’t grow up in a gearhead family, but from the beginning of his eight years as a helicopter mechanic in the U.S. Army, he was immersed in a world of skills he would never have anticipated seeking out on his own.
- “The Army was my introduction to mechanics,” said Leonard. “It taught me how different machines and processes work together, but it also taught me how to grasp hands-on knowledge and put it to use.”
A new career: That kind of experience served Leonard well when he transitioned out of the army in 2020. He had considered working in civilian aviation, but the process would have required additional education and a range of specific certificates. For Leonard, more school wasn’t a priority—and when he learned about the MI’s Heroes MAKE America program at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, it seemed like a perfect opportunity to get started in a new field by putting his existing capabilities to use.
- “I wanted to jump into something with the skills I already had,” said Leonard. “Heroes MAKE America seemed like a great place to enhance my skills and turn them into a new career.”
An immersive program: The MI—the workforce development and education partner of the NAM—designed Heroes MAKE America as an integrated certification and career-readiness training program that helps prepare transitioning service members, veterans, National Guard members, reservists and military spouses for careers in manufacturing. The initiative offers in-person trainings and remote training options, as well as career support and placement. So far, the program has a 90% placement rate with graduates in 42 states across the country.
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