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Apprenti Executive Director Jennifer Carlson, left, joins Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, right, and Amazon VP Ardine Williams, second from right, in honoring apprentices Scott Stone, Mike Cooper, Joshua Tanton, Shea Orr, and Bevin Smith on Wednesday at Amazon. Smoke the service dog also joined in. (Amazon Photo)

Amazon’s commitment to hiring military veterans took another step forward on Wednesday as the tech giant hosted a graduation event for its first class of Amazon Veteran Technical Apprentices.

In partnership with Apprenti, a program of the Washington Technology Industry Association (WTIA) Workforce Institute, five veterans were trained to become full time cloud support associates. Previous roles in the armed services for some of those graduating included combat medic, engineer dive officer and signal support.

The paid apprenticeship program included classroom training with Apprenti as well as on-the-job experience over several months, as the group learned the technical skills necessary to fill roles at Amazon and elsewhere.

Gov. Jay Inslee, Amazon vice president Ardine Williams and Apprenti Executive Director Jennifer Carlson joined in the celebration at Amazon in Seattle.

Carlson said on Fox News last month that Apprenti re-trains people from any occupation into a tech role.

“Sixty-one percent of our apprentices come from the military, and have been placed into Microsoft, Amazon and a variety of software development roles — network security, cybersecurity — so we have an opportunity for everybody,” Carlson said. “And it’s not education based, it is based on what your capabilities are.”

According to Amazon, there are 175 apprentices — veterans, military spouses and civilians — in seven locations across the United States who are training for in-demand tech jobs.

Amazon pledged in 2016 to hire 25,000 veterans and military spouses by 2021. Last fall, the company announced that it now employs more than 17,500 such folks in the U.S.

The company’s global employee group Amazon Warriors, made up of those who have served in their respective country’s military forces, has more than 50 chapters and thousands of members worldwide.

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