2014-02-07 / Front Page

Local program helps Soldiers trade helmets for hard hats

By Bonnie Heater
Fort Gordon Public Affairs Office


Morris Beard, representing the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, addresses a Friday class at Fort Gordon, offering insight on job opportunities for veterans who are considering a shift into the construction industry. 
Photo by Bill Bengtson / Fort Gordon Public Affairs Office Morris Beard, representing the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, addresses a Friday class at Fort Gordon, offering insight on job opportunities for veterans who are considering a shift into the construction industry. Photo by Bill Bengtson / Fort Gordon Public Affairs Office Army officials in Washington, D.C. recently released word that the reduction in force has been moved up to 2015 instead of 2017. What isn’t well known is there are programs being put in place to help transitioning Soldiers find employment in the civilian work force.

One way the Department of Defense is reaching out to help Service members is through the Helmets to Hard Hats program.

“This is a non-profit organization offering our military veterans an opportunity to establish a life-long career in the construction industry,” said Lt. Col. Louis R. Manning, special project officer to the Fort Gordon garrison commander.

After learning about the national Department of Defense program, Manning contacted those in charge of the program in Washington, D.C. and asked how it could be brought to Fort Gordon.

He discovered the most effectively way to help Soldiers was to combine the Helmets to Hard Hats program with the local trade unions. Manning with the assistance of the Fort Gordon Army Career and Alumni Program invited Morris Beard, a training director with the Central Savannah River Area Electrical Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee, to talk to Soldiers about opportunities in the construction industry.

The Helmets to Hard Hat program represents 15 different trades with more than 80 apprenticeships.

“The need for skilled employees in the trades is in high demand,” Beard explained to Soldiers Jan. 28 at the ACAP Center, Building 33800, on post. “You can use your Post 9/11 or Montgomery GI Bill while earning a paycheck as an apprentice tradesman.”

“Our apprenticeship is the oldest form of training you can have,” Beard said. “It’s a five year program. Once individuals are accepted into an apprenticeship program, they will be earning a paycheck while training to become a master craftsman/woman, taking classes and going to work at job sites. They will also receive a great benefit package that includes health insurance and retirement.

“After you complete the apprenticeship program we do require you to stay in the union, but you can work anywhere,” Beard said. “You can go and work in New York, Chicago, overseas, anywhere you want to go. We provide the jobs for you.”

“There is no age limit to enter the apprentice program, according to Beard. “Our retirement age is 57, but you can early out at 55,” he said.

The first step in finding a great career in the building and construction industry is to register for free at www.helmetstohardhats.org. Individuals interested in applying for the program need to submit a copy of their high school or General Educational Development certificate, and college diploma, if applicable . Veterans will need to submit a copy of their DD 214. Applicants must possess a valid driver’s license and submit a current criminal background check.

For those applying for the electrical apprenticeship in the CSRA, an official high school or college transcript must be submitted showing completion of one hour of high school or college algebra.

Once the application is received, an aptitude test will be administered. “Those that score between a4anda9willadvanceto the interview stage,” Beard explained.”Apprentices will be selected in order of the final ranking on the basis of education, experience, test results and interview.”

Following the presentation several Soldiers asked follow on questions to clarify some of the material discussed. One of the Soldiers expressing an interest in the apprenticeship program was Master Sgt. Samuel Williams, who is assigned to the 35th Military Police Detachment at Fort Gordon. He talked about how the program would help his family.

“As an apprentice, I will be receiving a paycheck and benefits while I train,” Williams said. “The Vass, N.C., native explained his brother is a carpenter. “Once I complete the program, I will not only have a well paying job with benefits and a good retirement plan, but I will be to help my brother out in the construction field.”

“We defended the nation, now with this apprenticeship program we will have an opportunity to build America in the construction industry,” he said.

(Morris Beard, the training director for the Central Savannah River Area Electrical Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee, will share information about the Helmets to Hard Hats program at the Fort Gordon Education and Employment Initiate program and Army Career and Alumni Program sponsored job fair to be held 10 a.m. Feb. 20 at the U.S. Army Reserve Center on post.)

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