VA investigation closes Garland veteran career center

A job training program in North Texas that caters to veterans suddenly shut down after news of an investigation by the Department of Veteran Affairs. As a result, hundreds of students were just left hanging.

The Retail Ready Career Center in Garland suddenly closed its doors to students on Wednesday without notice. The program has graduated more than 2,000 veterans in recent years.

Most of the stranded students are staying at an Extended Stay in Irving while enrolled in a training program. The group said they were in the middle of class Wednesday afternoon when an instructor abruptly told them they had to leave the premises and that the school was being shut down.

Marine Corps veteran Justin Nations wants answers.

“Everything just kind of went downhill after last week,” he said.

The San Angelo native is one of some 300 veterans from all across the country now living in limbo after the Retail Ready Career Center suddenly closed its doors.

“You could tell it was a big shock to all the instructors,” said Army veteran Auriel Walsh. “They basically told us, ‘Pack your stuff. Get all your belongings and please leave the premises as soon as possible.’”

The students who said they pay for the program through the GI bill said the first sign of trouble was last Wednesday when law enforcement officers stopped their bus as it pulled into the center's parking lot.

“We showed up at 7 a.m. to be early for school. And the cops were there,” Nations recalled. “They told us to sign a form and leave and school started the next day. And a week later, here we are.”

When FOX 4 stopped by the center Wednesday afternoon, the doors were locked but our cameras captured a few people coming out of the building. One man appeared to be carrying a box of items. 

“It was like no warning. It's like a headshot. That's it,” said Torris Blackshear. “Out of pocket $21,000.”

In a statement, a spokesman for the center said “the Department of Veteran Affairs is conducting an administrative review that has temporarily suspended classes. We hope to resolve this issue soon… Retail Ready Career Center is attempting to address any issues that may have arisen from this unfortunate situation.”

With little answers, several students aren’t so sure.

“They came in and pretty much told us, ‘Hey, you're going home. Get your stuff,’” said Blackshear.

“320 students — they just said, ‘Hey, it was nice knowing you. Bye,’” Nations said.

One of the veterans said the group is grateful for the hotel that is allowing them to stay for free at least for a few days until they can find a way to get back home.

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