CareerTech offers alternatives for Oklahoma veterans to use GI Bill benefits

A growing number of Oklahoma veterans are using their GI Bill benefits on CareerTech programs if they don't want to go to a four-year college.
BY BRYAN DEAN bdean@opubco.com Modified: December 30, 2013 at 12:00 pm •  Published: December 30, 2013
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A proper kitchen is run by a chef with militarylike precision, a trait that made it a logical career choice for Ian Rutledge.

Rutledge, of Oklahoma City, served 10 years in the U.S. Army before leaving the service this year. Like many former soldiers, he discovered he needed to learn new career skills.

He had the option of using the GI Bill to go to school, but he couldn't see himself in college.

CareerTech was an alternative, and Rutledge took it.

He's a culinary student at Francis Tuttle Technology Center in Oklahoma City.

Members of the military can use their benefits to learn a trade at CareerTech, which is often a more desirable option for those who want to make a good living without spending four years as a full-time student.

“School has never been something I enjoyed,” Rutledge said. “There was always a big push for every high school student to go to college. That's just not for everyone.”

March Dunham, director of the Francis Tuttle School of Culinary Arts, said programs like his can be a good place for a former soldier.

“The basics are already built in there,” Dunham said.

“Organization, dress, cleaning — we say ‘Yes, chef,' and ‘No, chef,' in the kitchen.”

Culinary school isn't the only option.

Danny King is director of Francis Tuttle's Portland Campus, which focuses on manufacturing.

He said there aren't enough people, including veterans, taking advantage of training that can earn them starting salaries between $50,000 and $100,000 a year.