Iowa unions are pledging to give returning soldiers credit for the skills they use in the military so they can land better jobs in the construction trades when they return home. Tom Gillespie, president of the Iowa State Building Trades Council, says the construction trade unions in Iowa are joining a national campaign to give veterans preferential treatment once they return. “On behalf of the 25,000 men and woman who are actively engaged in the construction industry throughout the state of Iowa who are represented by the council, we are proud to be partners with ‘Helmets to Hardhats,'” Gillespie says. Iowa National Guard Adjutant General Ron Dardis praised the unions. Dardis says it will help men and woman who’ve served their country find quality jobs once they return from duty. “This is the first industry in the US to make this commitment…by providing access to the best jobs in the construction business.” Dardis says the “Helmets to Hardhats” program gives returning soldiers credit for their military service and any skills the soldiers gained while serving. “The program also enhances the transition back to everyday life with the family and a civilian occupation which they so richly deserve,” Dardis says. Richard Running, director of Iowa’s Workforce Development agency, spoke at a ceremony held Tuesday afternoon on the statehouse steps to celebrate the program.”When I and many of my generation returned home from Vietnam…there weren’t a whole lot of ceremonies like this to talk about helping or assisting or even honoring returning veterans,” Running said. “Today’s ceremony marks another step for the National Guard, Reserve and transitions active duty from service to our country to serving the needs of families, loved ones and self through the transition to a career that provides good wages and benefits.” Running’s own son has just returned from a year in Iraq and he says the most important “next-step” for his son is making plans for a civilian job and career. “With this new opportunity in Iowa…chances are better that he and thousands of returning veterans will make Iowa this home,” Running said. The Workforce Development agency is working with the Guard and Reserve to help returning soldiers with trade skills find a job or apprenticeship through a construction trades union.
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