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Operating Engineers honor veterans, boost access to the building trades

Operating Engineers honor veterans, boost access to the building trades

Operating Engineers 324 looks forward to expanding veterans’ access to high-quality careers in the skilled trades

BLOOMFIELD TWP., Mich. – Ahead of Veterans Day, the Operating Engineers 324 proudly honored Michigan’s veteran operating engineers and renewed their commitment to helping more Michigan veterans enter fulfilling careers in the skilled trades that keep Michigan’s economy running.

“This Veterans Day, Operating Engineers 324 thanks all those who have served our nation in uniform, and we honor the many operating engineers across Michigan who served in the armed forces,” said Ken Dombrow, president of Operating Engineers 324. “At the Operating Engineers 324 we are committed to helping every veteran who is interested find a high-quality and fulfilling career in the skilled trades.”

This year, the Operating Engineers 324 worked with partners in the Michigan Legislature to establish the Helmets to Hardhats program in Michigan – a coordinated effort to connect veterans with apprenticeship programs that lead to good, dependable jobs in the building trades. The program kicks off in 2018.

Operating Engineer Jessica Knight, a 15-year veteran of the U.S. Army Reserves who was deployed four times to Iraq, and a participant in the Helmets to Hardhats program, noted that many skills developed in the military are directly applicable to the skilled trades.

“Being on the job site, I have that purpose and structure again,” said Knight. “Military members like and need that structure.”

“Helmets to Hardhats is a commonsense program that is good for our veterans and good for our state,” said Douglas Stockwell, Operating Engineers 324 business manager and general vice-president. “The demand for skilled tradespeople is high and growing and veterans can help us get the job done.”

While Helmets to Hardhats is already active in Michigan, new funding coming in 2018 will enhance current recruitment efforts and further assist military veterans in transition. Many veterans come to their Operating Engineers apprenticeship with the skillsets, self-discipline and commitment to teamwork that make them stand out on the job.

“One thing I tell a lot of people is being an apprentice is like being an E1 private all over again and the journeymen are the higher enlisted,” said Knight. “It’s a brotherhood and a sisterhood, just like the military, and everyone has each other’s back.”