Each year, 200,000 service members at 140 military installations in the US and around the globe are expected to separate from active duty.

Most of us have heard of Helmets to Hardhats, the most famous program of training to placement for separating veterans in the nation. On the off-chance that you might not have heard, Helmets to Hardhats connects retired, Reserve, National Guard, and transitioning active-duty military service members with a skill or a career pathway in the construction industry.

However, you probably don’t know that fifteen international and national Building Trade unions sponsor Helmets to Hardhats. These union-sponsored apprenticeship programs train separating service members in the construction industry so they can come home with a skill and move directly into higher-paying jobs. 

Veteran Training: SkillBridge

Both the Teamsters’ and the Utility Workers’ training to placement programs that Elizabeth Murray-Belcaster, the CEO of EMB Consultants, mentioned on the podcast fall under the Department of Defense’s SkillBridge program. SkillBridge is a policy implemented and authorized by the Department of Defense to all the branches of service.

This policy allows for a service member to leave active duty up to 180 days prior to separation and enroll in a vetted training to placement program. Since the service member is still being paid by the US government, the program must be approved by the DOD, and they have to be released by their commanders.

For a list of Department of Defense’s SkillBridge programs mentioned on the podcast or if you’d like to learn more about the DOD’s SkillBridge Program, click on the hyperlink DOD website and you’ll be taken to the Department of Defense’s website.

When the CEO of EMB Consultants, Elizabeth Murray-Belcaster, was on the podcast, she highlighted the impact these training to placement programs have on transitioning soldiers:

Listen to the full podcast of Union Matters: Veteran Training Programs with Elizabeth Murray-Belcaster, click HERE

A Case Study: Teamsters Military Assistance Program

The Teamsters Military Assistance Program was a case study under the SkillBridge program mentioned on the podcast. The Teamsters’ program lasts six weeks and starts about 90 days before a service member separates from active duty. During the podcast, Elizabeth debuted her impressive statistics. 

Between 2016 and 2020, 565 service members graduated from the Teamsters Military Assistance Program. The total cost to US taxpayers for training these 565 graduates was only $773,000. However, these graduates earned a little over $62 million in average gross pay and received over $30 million in total benefits from their employers. (See TMAP ABF Case Study Table below)

ABF Freight Teamsters Military Assistance Program Table

Studies demonstrate that veterans name “finding a job” as the greatest challenge. Two-thirds experience a difficult transition to civilian life. Statistically, veterans experience higher unemployment rates than their non-veteran counterparts. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, veteran unemployment was 9.9% compared to non-veterans at 7.9% in 2012.

Every union in the country should consider sponsoring a training to placement program. The veteran receives a better paying job; the employer gains a skilled employee; the union gains a new member. It’s a win for everyone. Besides, what could be more patriotic than helping a returning veteran achieve the American dream?

Enjoy full podcast episodes of The World of Multiemployer Benefit Funds with union and client advocate, Traci Dority-Shanklin. Available on Apple, Spotify, Google, Amazon, Pandora, or check out our full library HERE on our website.

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