'Helmets to Hardhats' training program helps veterans get construction jobs

July 16, 2009 |

Washington, DC – Helmets to Hardhats (H2H) – a national, nonprofit program dedicated to helping National Guard, Reserve, retired and transitioning active-duty military members find quality careers in the construction industry – is encouraging American military servicemembers to consider a career in the building and construction trades upon completion of their military duty.

Making a successful transition from the military into the civilian workforce can be difficult. Transitioning military veterans face the same challenges as any other job hunter – getting their résumé to the right people, learning how to sell themselves, tracking down promising job leads, following-up with employers, headhunters, job placement agencies …etc. Not many people are comfortable with this process and veterans have the added stressor of trying to translate the skills that they learned in the military into language that employers can understand. The process can feel overwhelming, especially if it seems like meaningful help is unavailable.

Helmets to Hardhats was formed for this reason and is dedicated to helping military veterans transition into an industry that provides family-supporting wages, good benefits and job security – the construction industry.

How it works

Most experienced job seekers understand that utilizing personal networks (networking) is a much more effective way of securing a quality career than simply looking online or going through newspaper ads. Although H2H is a Web-based program, what sets it apart from other workforce development initiatives is that H2H employs 15 field directors who take an active role in connecting veterans with people in the trades and facilitate the hiring process. At the end of the day, having an advocate on your side who can tell you where you need to go, who you need to talk to and what you can expect during the interview makes all the difference in the world to serious job seekers interested in securing a challenging but rewarding career.

Apply online

The program’s website, www.helmetstohardhats.org, receives between 25,000 and 30,000 unique visitors per month and has led to the successful placement of thousands of veterans in construction apprenticeship programs, which range from two to five years and include trades such as bricklaying, plumbing, carpentry, ironworking and many others.

Become a Success Story

Helmets to Hardhats candidate Kyle Ortiz recently started a new career in the trades. “My only goal when looking for a job after my five years of service in the Navy as an aviation hydraulic technician was to find a job that would let me get my hands dirty and pay the bills. I heard about H2H when I called one of the local elevator unions to find out about employment opportunities. After talking to a few people in search of information, I called Richie Eckler (H2H field director). Being an elevator man himself, the information he shared with me convinced me that the Elevator Union was the job for me. Within a few months, he had a job for me in San Diego with I.U.E.C. Local 18.

"I have been an apprentice with Kone Elevators for three months. I started out in Mod but quickly moved to Repair where I work for Mike Pasol, a 20-year veteran of the trade, and I am learning new things daily. I love troubleshooting and everyday is an exciting new adventure for me. I have not had a complaint whatsoever since joining the apprenticeship. Everyone in the trade was very welcoming and I hope to have a long career with the Elevator Union. Without H2H, opportunities like this would not be so accessible. I am proud to say that I have served my country, and I am more than grateful for the opportunities that have risen from my time in service,” said Kyle Ortiz when asked about his experience with the H2H program.

Why the Building Trades?

Going from a helmet to a hardhat is a great opportunity for many of the 250,000 to 300,000 men and women discharged from the military every year.

The construction industry offers an annual salary higher than the overall national average and provides more than 80 unique apprenticeship programs. Also, if you start out in the construction industry as an apprentice, you can earn while you learn. As a veteran, that means you will receive a paycheck as well as your Montgomery GI Bill benefits to cover general living expenses during your apprenticeship training.

Wounded Warriors

Helmets to Hardhats recognizes the supreme sacrifice that veterans have made for our country. H2H also administers a Wounded Warriors job-assistance program that helps disabled veterans find quality careers in the building and construction trades.

To learn more about the Helmets to Hardhats program, visit the H2H Web site, www.helmetstohardhats.org, or call the H2H office at 866-741-6210.

Upon signing the GI Bill in 1944, President Franklin Roosevelt said, “What our servicemen and women want, more than anything else, is the assurance of satisfactory employment upon their return to civil life.”



Tad Kicielinski

(202) 756-4642 Office

(202) 286-6675 Cell 

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