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Veterans Day Is Not The Only Day We Honor Our Vets

Today is the day when the nation stops to honor the brave men and women who have served our country.

Home of the FREE because of the BRAVE

‘Welcome Home’ the two words that every veteran looks forward to hearing.  Now as we celebrate Veterans Day we need to talk about the biggest problem facing veteran, unemployment.

In 2011 President Obama took this problem very seriously and pushed the “VOW to hire Vets Act” which has continued to lower the unemployment rate of veterans to its lowest point in years.

The President is not the only who have taken pride in helping our veterans returning home.  America’s Building Trades have been helping veterans find good careers through their Helmets to Hardhats program.

“Because of their military experience, these guys no longer have the kid in them,” said Doug Williams, Business Manager of Iron Workers Local 433. “They have discipline, can follow instructions and are not afraid to work hard. They are the kind of men we need in our industry.”

The Helmets to Hardhat program is also using returning vets to help heal America’s wounds here at home.  Veterans are currently working on rebuilding the World Trade Center.

“I had just arrived at my duty station when Sept. 11 happened,” says Lawrence Gotti, Ironworkers Local 40, a U.S. Army Veteran. “Being from New York and going through what I’ve gone through, It’s just an honor—it’s a point of personal pride to be here now working on any part of the World Trade Center.”

See the special Veterans Day message from Iron Workers General President Walter Wise

Locally the Iron Workers Union (local 7) have helped many veterans receive the training they need to build a long career as an ironworker.  Last year Shawn Cleary, Business Agent for Local 7, gave a speech at a local ‘Topping Out’ ceremony for graduating Helmets to Hardhats graduates. (Video)

While Helmets to Hardhats is a phenomenal program to help returning vets one organization has been helping vets for far longer.  The US Postal Service has a workforce of over 600,000 people and over 25% are veterans.   Even better is that 8% of the workforce are disabled veterans.  The USPS is one of the largest employers of returning veterans in the country, and now that is in jeopardy.

The funding problems the USPS is facing would reek havok on the workforce.

The Postal Service announced in August that it wants to reduce the workforce by 220,000, and is seeking authority to lay off as many as 120,000 workers.

If 120,000 postal workers were laid off, approximately 26,000 veterans would be affected.

Below is an ad created by the American Postal Workers Union in conjunction with Save Americas Postal Service to highlight these cuts.

As we move away from the Presidential election and into the Lame Duck Congress we have to be very mindful that there are many pieces of USPS recovery legislation that may come up.  Some of the legislation is good and would fix the over-funding of their retirement system, while others would end up closing post offices, and stopping six day delivery.

Working to save our USPS is just another way we can provide our returning vetrans with good careers here at home.

Local 7 Ironworks celebrate Vetrans in Topping Out Helmets to Hardhats Ceremony.

This is a message from Shawn Cleary BA for the Iron Workers, Local 7. I have also included a short Video of Shawn presenting an award to two of the apprentices who helped to build the Service Credit Union as part of the Helmets to Hardhats program.

Helmets to Hardhats places quality men and women from the Armed Forces into promising building and construction careers through organizations like the Iron Workers Union.

Acceptance into the building and construction trades is the first step to a great future. Careers in the building trades enable current and former military members to earn while they learn and get rewarded for hard work. Being a member in the building and construction trades entitles qualified candidates to competitive salaries with consistent raises, pension plans, excellent medical benefits and flexibility when it comes to taking time off.

Most candidates will enter an apprenticeship program where they learn a trade through on-the-job training, supplemented by classroom instruction at state-of-the-art training facilities. Through the Iron Workers Local 7 Apprentice Training Program there is no charge for the training and apprentices are  paid for the time they are working. An apprentice’s pay increases periodically over the course of the program and as the apprentice becomes more skilled. Many apprenticeship programs, including the Iron Workers have arrangements allowing individuals to obtain college credit for classroom work. Upon graduation, apprentices become  journeymen — a craftsperson recognized for his or her knowledge and ability in the selected trade.

Shawn Cleary

Business Agent/Industry Analyst

Iron Workers Local 7

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