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ACE Salutes Veterans with Fitness Scholarship

Veterans' path to a career in the fitness industry just got easier with a new program launched by the American Council on Exercise.

Many military members chose their career to provide help and support for others. But when their service time comes to an end, often these men and women are left not only looking for a job, but also a way to continue to serve the welfare of others.

To help provide access to a career in the fitness industry where both are possible, the American Council on Exercise (ACE) has recently launched the Salute You program. In 2013, this scholarship program has provided 1,000 premium study bundles to qualified service members who have been honorably discharged from the armed forces interested in becoming certified personal trainers.

"This program is near and dear to me," says Cedric X. Bryant, chief science officer for the American Council on Exercise, who taught at West Point in the mid '80s. "We are proud to give out 1,000 scholarships. We are hoping to partner with a larger organization in the future to offer more opportunities to these brave men and women to embark on a significant and meaningful career."

The scholarship program gives military veterans the opportunity to continue serving others and encourages their own healthy lifestyles while also giving them a boost during a still-difficult economy. More than two-thirds of U.S. veterans consider finding a job the greatest challenge in transitioning to civilian life, and their frustrations are well documented. Unemployment among post 9/11 veterans stands at 7.3%, which is slightly higher than the non-veteran rate, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor, with that rate skyrocketing to near 20% for vets between 18 and 24. Clearly, there is still need for military personnel to develop new skills as the number of those competing for jobs is expected to continue climbing as troops withdraw from Afghanistan in 2014.

"It is a big load off your mind when you get back from being deployed to not have to worry about it when you're dealing with catching up with family and friends, paying bills and taking care of life," says Salute You scholarship recipient Kain Martin, a Navy reservist who recently returned from a year in Afghanistan and has competed in martial arts and powerlifting in the past. "This is something I've always wanted to do but either had no time or no money and the ACE Salute You program helps to make it possible to follow a dream."

The opportunities for the 300,000 or so expected vets over the next few years should be good for those pursuing careers as personal trainers.

"Personal training as a profession is expected to grow over the next five or six years by some 24 percent," Bryant says. "In fact, it recently made the CNN Money list in the top 20 professions with average earnings of $56,000 a year."

Whether to continue a career serving others, battling the obesity epidemic or helping to ease the burden of looking for a job after returning from overseas, programs such as Salute You are helping to create qualified personal trainers when more people seem to need them.

"For our men and women in the armed forces, health and fitness is already a big part of their lives, so it makes a lot of sense to provide our returning veterans with opportunities to pursue careers in fitness training and instruction," says Rep. Scott Peters (CA-52), a member of the House Armed Services Committee.



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