When Josh Mazariegos’ four years as a United States Navy aviation boatswain mate was finished, the Victorville native felt that there was another path for his future.
“I wasn’t 100 percent sure what I was going to do after the military,” said Mazariegos, 24. “I knew I was ready to get out of the military and do something else with my life.”
A San Diego resident since 2020, he heard from a friend about Workshops For Warriors (WFW), a nonprofit program out of Barrio Logan which offers military veterans education opportunities, professional and personal development planning, and helps connect students to well-paying jobs and lasting careers in the trades.
The program, which counts on individuals and corporations to support it and partner with it to help it grow, boasts an incredible 94% job placement rate for its graduates.
For 15 years, WFW program grads have been consistently hired for well-paying careers in jobs that include advanced computer numerical control (CNC) machining, robotics, 3D printing, laser cutting and more by companies like Ford, General Dynamics, Boeing, Solar Turbines, SpaceX and Reliance Steel & Aluminum Co.
Interested in machining since he was 16, Mazariegos became intrigued with WFW, which upon further investigation he learned is a school offering transitioning service members and vets accelerated, multi-disciplinary advanced manufacturing training with state-of-the-art equipment, Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics educational programs, and nationally recognized certifications in CNC machining and welding.
“This school is great,” Mazariegos said. “Not only do they teach you the hands-on side of the machines but they also actually teach you all the background. You learn how to write the code and what the code means – the whole process from beginning to end, absolutely A to Z. I came in not really knowing anything about running machines and now I’m 110% confident.”
Those are exactly the sentiments WFW CEO Hernán Luis y Prado, a native of Argentina, wants to hear. Luis y Prado is a 16-year Navy combat veteran – first a Hospital Corpsman then a Surface Warfare Officer – who was compelled to open the school in 2008.
Volunteering at the National Naval Medical Center on his way to a plan to become a doctor, Luis y Prado would see people at the hospital, “honorable, capable, and proven men and women that I served with… who were struggling to find purpose in the civilian world.”
He told his wife Rachel he needed to do more for them. During a visit the couple made to the Montgomery Mall in Bethesda, Maryland, a former Navy colleague saw him and asked him to be the best man at his wedding. Luis y Prado said he went to hug his friend, who was in a wheelchair, but the friend was unable to stand. He had lost both of his legs to an improvised explosive device.
“That changed me,” Luis y Prado said. “I literally dropped to my knees. I told my wife we had to do something.”
So Luis y Prado and his wife sold their house, cars and material goods, cashed out their retirement funds and moved to San Diego, where they knew there was a strong military and manufacturing presence.
Since then, the Bay Park resident has seen WFW graduate more than 1,100 students from its four-month program.
Workshops for Warriors
FOUNDER AND CEO: Hernan Luis y Prado
HEADQUARTERS: Barrio Logan
BUSINESS: Nonprofit school
REVENUE: $7 million
CONTACT: (619) 550-1620
SOCIAL IMPACT: WFW was able to provide 131 full scholarships, 2 partial scholarships and 22 living stipends to its students in 2022.
NOTABLE: 87% of WFW’s expenses go directly to its training programs.