MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYTINE PALMS, Calif. --
With Marines and sailors constantly conducting pre-deployment training in the harsh desert landscape aboard the Combat Center, they may not have time to research what resources are available to help them find the perfect career outside the Marine Corps.
The Helmets to Hardhats program gives transitioning service members an opportunity to find careers by introducing them to building and construction businesses throughout the United States and helping them find jobs that are right for them.
Dan Lozano, the national field coordinator for Helmets to Hardhats, said the program is similar to an online job search, but “gives a little something more than expected.”
“Let’s say a Marine is interested in a job posted on our site and forwards his profile to apply for the job,” said Lozano, a retired gunnery sergeant and San Clemente, Calif., native. “Instead of his application getting shoved into a different computer and him having to wait until he is on his death bed for a response, his application will go to an actual human being who will take him step-by-step throughout the rest of the application process to ensure they get a response from the employer.”
The program makes sure every company that posts jobs on their Web site, http://www.helmets tohardhats.org/, is legitimate. The employers pay more than minimum wage and all their employees receive similar medical and dental benefits offered in the military, Lozano said. To sign up for the program, military members need a high school diploma or a general education diploma and an honorable discharge from the military.
The program does not just involve general construction and building companies. Postings are also accepted from various businesses specializing in roofing, plumbing, tile and brick-laying, electrical and carpentry.
“Helmets to Hardhats helps open service member’s eyes to different career choices,” said Jeff Fourier, the branch head of the Lifelong Learning Education Office. “Marines going through that transition from being in the military to becoming a civilian need to be familiar with the different avenues available.”
Through the program, Marines can use the Montgomery GI Bill to help relieve the financial stress.
“Marines need to make sure they take the current GI Bill because the Post 9/11 GI Bill can’t be used with our program,” Lozano said.
When someone is trying to become certified within a certain trade, it normally takes five years to become a journeyman. During those five years as an apprentice, the GI Bill can be used.
Depending on the job, apprentices can receive up to $900 a month until the employee gets a pay raise in six months. After the first pay raise, the amount will drop to approximately $700 a month until the next pay raise. The disbursement will eventually even out at $400 a month for the remainder of the five years. During this time, the apprentice will also be paid by the contractor as well.
For more information, visit their Web site at http://www.helmetsto hardhats.org.