Editor’s note: The following commentary was contributed by Darrell Roberts, Executive Director of the nonprofit group Helmets to Hardhats. The content may be edited for clarity, style and length.
I have a message for individuals who have bravely served our country:
If you are ready to reenter the civilian workforce, you do not have to do it alone. I lead a national nonprofit program, Helmets to Hardhats, whose sole mission is connecting our nation’s heroes to world-class apprenticeship training and quality careers in the construction industry.
Returning home can be difficult, and reentering the civilian workforce can be intimidating.
Helmets to Hardhats was designed with both of those facts in mind. Transitioning active duty military service members deserve our support. Every day and in every part of the country.
But while many groups claim to help employ veterans, there are few with proven track records of connecting veterans to federally-approved apprenticeship training — offered at no cost to the veteran — and quality careers in a booming industry.
I served in the Navy, and I was deployed with the Army National Guard, so I know the challenges that come with a transition home.
This is why I am especially proud of the work of my team at Helmets to Hardhats. They are on the ground every day, introducing veterans to viable pathways to success via the apprenticeship training of North America’s Building Trades Unions.
Funded by union members and their signatory contractor partners, more than $1.3 billion is invested annually to fund and operate nearly 2,000 apprenticeship training facilities across North America.
While the training comes at no cost to the veterans, veterans actually earn wages and benefits as they work through the program. They can even supplement their income with their GI Bill benefits.
That means two checks for the veteran: One from the contractor and one from the government.
Furthermore, there is no prior experience is needed. Most successful placements are tied to veterans who began with little to no experience in their chosen field.
Thus far, Helmets to Hardhats has helped nearly 30,000 veterans successfully transition into career in the unionized construction industry.
And we will not stop there.
Until all veterans — female and minority veterans, disabled veterans, and veterans from historically underserved communities — know about the opportunities that await them once they return home, Helmets to Hardhats will continue to bolster and expand our efforts.
When labor and management work together, veterans are empowered to succeed.
This is not about jobs for veterans. This is about careers. This is about life-changing opportunities. Please tell a veteran you know that when he or she decides to reenter the civilian workforce that Helmets to Hardhats is here to connect them to a pathway to success.
Darrell Roberts is the Executive Director of Helmets to Hardhats, a nonprofit organization that, over the past 15 years, has connected nearly 30,000 veterans to federally-approved apprenticeship training programs and careers in the construction industry.