72nd Annual Minnesota State Building Trades Convention Highlights the 'Helmets to Hardhats' Program

Executive Director Carly Melin kicked off the 72nd annual Minnesota State Building Trades Convention in Downtown Duluth. At a press conference union members, leaders, and Congressman Tim Walz highlighted the Helmets to Hardhats (H2H) program in light of Governor Dayton’s proclamation (link is external) of “hire a veteran” month. 
“Hiring a veteran is one of the best investments a business can make,” said Governor Dayton. “Veterans learn fast and possess many invaluable skills, such as leadership, dedication, and strong work ethics. During ‘Hire a Veteran Month,’ I strongly encourage employers to hire highly-talented and well-trained Minnesota veterans.”
Scott Kyrola President of Duluth based Northland Constructors has hired many veterans and notes that the “nice thing about the [Superior Street Reconstruction Project] is that we are blessed with strong unions."
Helmets to Hardhats connects National Guard, Reserve, retired and transitioned 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. The program was started in 2001 and expanded nationally in 2003. Nationwide, the program has helped over 20,000 veterans find work. H2H is open to those with an honorable discharge.
Former Marine Justin Rost is the Interim Director of Helmets to Hardhats Minnesota. In Roth’s experience, Minnesota is Veteran friendly with a robust infrastructure of support that H2H draws from to support veterans to secure union jobs. Rost argues that veterans are valuable employees because, among other things, there “attention to detail is second to none.” Roth was careful to point out that the program is not just for veterans directly transitioning out of the military; it also serves underemployed veterans. He encourages those interested to look at the website for more information,  https://helmetstohardhats.org 
Congressman and veteran Tim Walz applauded the efforts and leadership of the building trades & business groups to re-do the GI bill to benefit veterans like Anderson. For Walz Helmets to Hardhats has made a significant difference. He noted that in the post-recession economic environment there is, “much higher unemployment rate for returning veterans.” Now, the vet unemployment rate is below the national average. Furthermore, Walz highlighted that there is a 65% drop off of VA services use if a job is found within the first 90 days of completing military service. 
Veteran Jared Anderson is an H2H participate starting in April 2016 and is a member of Sheet Metal Workers Local 10. Anderson was able to take advantage of the recent bi-partisan redesign of the GI bill to help secure housing. In Anderson’s experience, “everybody in the trades has been great and welcoming.” 
Article reprinted from WorkdayMinnesota.
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