Veterans Training Programs Rise to the Challenge

Written by: James Wilkey
Written by: James Wilkey









It’s hard to repay a debt written in blood and sacrifice. Unfortunately this debt to our veterans often goes unpaid. And in bad economic times, when work is hard enough to find for non-veterans, it somehow seems as if this debt slips ever further from our minds. No matter what “assisting a veteran” back into civilian life means, be it support through life changing wounds, therapy, or even simpler things like basic health care and work, returning service men and women often do not receive enough help.

Unfortunately, one of the biggest road blocks in this process continues to be dispelling unfounded concerns and negative stereotypes surrounding veterans in the workplace. Employers often fear that the aftermath of war, in the form of PTSD or other hidden disabilities, might make veterans unstable and potentially dangerous elements in the work place. In reality, the numbers surrounding these kinds of cases are few and far between.

Employers also worry about the costs of incorporating injured veterans into their workforce. However, Nancy B. Adams, Branch Chief at the U.S. Army Warrior Transition Command, notes that most traumas can be addressed with relative ease, and the average cost of accommodating an injured veteran is only $500. Stereotypes of soldiers being good with orders but bad at thinking outside the box also worry employers who don’t want to be bogged down in micromanagement, but this again is a myth. In fact, the opposite is often true. Military training is specifically tailored to encourage thinking creatively in addition to obeying the chain of command.

U.S. Secretary of Labor, Hild Solis, meets a member of Veterans in Piping program in 2011.
U.S. Secretary of Labor, Hilda Solis, meets a member of the Veterans in Piping program in 2011.

Taking Action
Fortunately, an increasing number of veteran assistance programs have helped employers see past the stereotypes and embrace veteran workers. For example, in 2011 the U.S. Chamber of Commerce created a program named Hiring Our Heroes: “a nationwide initiative designed to help veterans and military spouses find meaningful employment.” And in 2012, Lockheed Martin joined GE, the Manufacturing Institute, Alcoa, and Boeing in a collaborative program called Get Skills to Work.

Two other organizations are working hard to make sure the manufacturing and welding industries challenge negative stereotypes and provide economic opportunities back home, where veterans are often forgotten. Helmets to Hardhats and the United Association’s Veterans in Piping Program (VIP) help veterans maximize their unique skill sets as they transition from soldiers to welders. Battling the negative stereotypes surrounding veterans is a critical part of their mission. However, their primary function remains helping veterans find meaningful and gainful employment. To this end, both organizations work with military and industry leaders to offer free training and promising jobs to veterans. Introducing disciplined and highly trainable veterans into the workforce will help lower the unemployment rate for returning service members and ease the demand for skilled labor.

The major difference between the two organizations is scope. Helmets to Hardhats works with National Guard, Reserve, retired and transitioning active-duty military service members to help veterans find work in a variety of building and construction specialties. In 2007, Helmets to Hardhats also created a Wounded Warrior program to train and support injured veterans returning to civilian life. VIP also offers high-quality skills training and jobs in the pipe trades to veterans and active duty military personnel preparing to leave the service. The organization’s video and photo gallery displays its unabashed sense of community and pride in the veterans it supports.

Whether you’re a retired service member or an employer looking for the kind of skill set a veteran has to offer, we encourage you to look into VIP, Helmets to Hardhats, Workshops for Warriors, Wounded Warriors Veterans Welding Training Program, and the other veterans’ assistance programs mentioned above.

Veterans Welding Training Program
From Warrior to Welder: One Veteran’s Path to a Career in Welding
Veterans to Welders: Career Building America’s Finest
Negative Stereotypes Hamper Veterans’ Employment Opportunities
Workshops for Warriors

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3 thoughts on “Veterans Training Programs Rise to the Challenge”

  1. I was extremely interested in the program of veterans to welders . As a former U.S. marine infantryman 2003 -2007 to welding company owner myself , this idea struck me deeply . My company allegheny industrial l.l.c. Specializes in power piping and process piping as well as steel erection . We are a small company and have been operating for only a few years however we seem to accomplish more then bigger companies in our area and the reasoning behind my buisness success has always been attributed to my service in the marine corps . When I read of your concept I immediately supported it and here are some reasons as to why and my ideas on approaching the subject of Kevlar helmets to fiber metal hoods ! I believe it is correct that buisness owners are advantageous to hire veterans and I believe this fault is not only on stigma of veterans but our overall approach to recruitment of the veterans from buisness as well as our thoughts as a society . When a service member firsts joins the military he takes an oath from this point on he learns to operate in a unit a squad or a team task are easily retained and then a proactive , whatever it takes to succeed approach is taken until that objective is accomplished in civilian society these ideals are hard to come by but are very much there just in a slower paced less intense Manner . A concept I’ve always held dear is that my service to the American people didn’t end just because my job and title did . When I was getting out of the marine corps I read an aws report about the demand for welders in by 2010 would be huge at that moment I decided that would be my next service front . If America needed it I was still willing to give it and do my part because I swore that I would , believe it or not that was the best thing I ever did ! I live a great life now because of welding and it afforded me the opertunity to give backin many different ways in the community as well I hire graduating students from the collages as well as veterans I always see when given the opportunity that the veterans inspire true leadership and intestinal forditutde to the non veteran workers. A great example , I saw once a veteran asked to work a night shift outside in a snow storm in below zero weather he was paired with a civilian welder and the two of them forged through the blistering cold night swaying in the wind and snow only to get the job done ahead of schedule . When I asked the non veteran how it was he had rellayed it was tough and he wanted to give up but the veteran of the two of them wouldn’t let him and continued to motivate him they worked as a team they supported eachothher and accomplished a seemingly impossible task . So again veterans in the welding trade go hand in hand they are as tough as the work and an inspiration to others they can deal with conditions and tasks most would give a glance and go to , they are one of Americas strongest resources and again they need to know that , like I said for myself our veterans need too know that they’re service hasn’t ended because they’re contract has that this country needs them now more then ever . And I believe when called , they will respond . It pains me to read an article about people being afraid of veterans because of things from the war they have no basis for thinking like that and anyone who was willing to sign they’re life for another’s should be brought home built up and given a chance to step right in and lead or fallow we are proactive in both aspects and proactive in our learning our duties responsibilities we are team builders and when grouped together can accomplish feats men would fear . Inspire a veteran to weld and they will inspire a country to succeed !

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