Union programs offer training, opportunity
By TIM ROWDEN
The Rockwood Labor Club participated in a “Veterans Open House Stand Down” program to “Give A Hand Up – Not A Handout” to veterans Sept. 17 at the Eureka-Pacific Elks Lodge.
Labor Club members manned a booth to relay information about North America’s Building Trades Unions’ “Helmets to Hardhats” program and the United Association’s VIP (Veterans In Piping) program.
Among the Labor Club participants were U.S. Navy veteran Clay Lunsford, of Elevator Constructors Local 3, and U.S. Army National Guard veteran Shawn Milligan, of Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 562, both of whom participated in the Helmets to Hardhats program, which connects quality men and women from the Armed Forces with promising building and construction careers.
“It’s a really, really good program,” Lunsford said. “It streamlined everything and made it easier for me to get going.
“Anyone with skills they learned in the military can use it,” Lunsford said. “It’s geared toward people in the military.”
Milligan was already in an apprenticeship with Local 562 when he joined the Army National Guard and was helped through Helmets to Hardhats to access educational benefits through the G.I. Bill to compensate for lower wages during his apprenticeship.
APPLYING SKILLS LEARNED IN THE MILITARY
Scott McKnight (Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 562), one of the Labor Club members in attendance, said both the Veterans In Piping and Helmets to Hardhats programs help veterans apply the skills they’ve developed in the service.
“They’ve already demonstrated that they’re of good character and they’re intelligent and they know how to work as a team,” McKnight said. “Quite frankly, all they need is a door to open that they can walk through.”
Eureka-Pacific Elks Veterans Committee Chairman Mike Jeffries, a Vietnam veteran, said the “Veterans Open House” was open to all veterans and active duty military to provide them with the assistance they might need in transitioning to civilian life.
Rockwood Labor Club President Marty McClimens (Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 562) said members were eager to participate.
“This is the first year that they’ve done this,” McClimens said. “When the Labor Club heard about it, we said ‘Yeah, we want to be a part of that.’
Jeffries was impressed with the Labor programs and the opportunities they provide veterans and active duty military.
“They didn't have anything like that when I got out,” Jeffries said. “To have a program where they can get into the program before their military service is over, it’s wonderful. To me, Labor getting involved is a big asset for the military person to transition civilian life.”
Connecting veterans and active duty military to the programs is key, McClimens said, which is why the open house was important.
“There’s a lot of resources out there for our military people but connecting them with those resources is what seems to be hard to do,” he said.
The national, nonprofit Helmets to Hardhats program connects National Guard, Reserve, retired and transitioning active-duty military service members with skilled training and quality career opportunities in the construction industry. The program is designed to help military service members successfully transition back into civilian life by offering them the means to secure a quality career in the construction industry. You can find out more about the Helmets to Hardhats program at: helmetstohardhats.org.
VETERANS IN PIPING
The Veterans In Piping (VIP) program is a unique, nationwide effort by the United Association of Plumbers & Pipefitters (UA) to help returning veterans obtain job skills, and help journeymen upgrade the skills needed for specific jobs.
The program helps equip military service members preparing to leave the service with sought after skills that can lead to lifelong careers in the increasingly in-demand pipe trades. Through 18-week accelerated courses – provided free of cost on military bases across the country – VIP participants earn industry-recognized certifications and a direct entry into solid private-sector jobs with good pay and benefits. You can find out more about the Veterans In Piping program at: ua.org/veterans.