It was a proud day for the Bensonhurst Volunteer Ambulance Service on January 16, when it graduated its first class from the Veterans Medical Training Program. The four graduates hailed from all across the military, with the program training veterans from every branch except the Air Force thus far.
Corporate President of the Bensonhurst Volunteer Ambulance Service Michael Marquez — who presented certificates to the graduates at the January meeting of the 62nd Precinct Community Council, held at the station house, 1925 Bath Avenue — explained that the program began as a way to help both veterans and the community, with the service “looking for people to essentially fulfill a need in the community.”
With an increased rate of unemployment for veterans compared to the general population, he said, the program provides job training and continued assistance for veterans as they help the volunteer ambulance service, proving a “win-win for everybody.”
Marquez, who created the program, said the program is being finalized to be 10 weeks long, running two nights a week. The group — which is recruiting recently discharged veterans who are interested in the field — provides training for becoming an Emergency Medical Responder, the stage before Emergency Medical Technician. The veterans are trained in basic medical care, such as how to deal with a patient who is bleeding or how to perform CPR.
Veterans can then parlay this training and experience working with the Bensonhurst Volunteer Ambulance Service to get extra points on civil service exams and become an EMT.
While veterans must pay basic costs like textbooks and certain personal items, they do not have to pay for any of the classes.
Robert Marquez, the Bensonhurst Volunteer Ambulance Service’s Veterans Liaison and a veteran who went through the program, said that all the veterans who graduated are committed to continuing to serve the community with the service, and felt that the training “has been very useful and helpful” to himself and the other graduates.
“It’s something that Mike has worked very hard on for the past three years,” he noted during the community council meeting. “Mike believes it’s important to give veterans a chance.”
Interested veterans can contact the organization at 718-837-5032, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Additional reporting contributed by Helen Klein.