Lt. Governor Brown Announces State Partnership with National 'Helmets to Hardhats' Initiative
SILVER SPRING, Md. (September 2, 2010) – Today at National Labor College, Lt. Governor Anthony G. Brown joined Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation Secretary Alexander Sanchez, Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Ed Chow, military officials, and representatives from Helmets to Hardhats, labor unions and building trades to announce Maryland’s participation in the national ‘Helmets to Hardhats’ initiative.
“We have an obligation to serve those who have served. This Labor Day, we thank those brave Americans who defended our freedom along with the men and women who helped build the foundations of our strong communities,” said Lt. Governor Brown. “Since taking office, we have championed efforts to make the transition from combat to the community easier. Two years ago, we passed the Veterans Behavioral Health Act that improves mental and behavioral health and transitional services for veterans. Today, we launch a new partnership with Helmet to Hardhats that will put veterans’ military training to use in our diverse economy.”
Helmets to Hardhats is a free, non-profit program that connects National Guard, Reserve, retired and transitioning active-duty military members to quality career opportunities and full-time, paid apprenticeships in the construction industry. Established in 2003, it is designed to help servicemembers successfully transition back into civilian life by connecting them to opportunities in the skilled trades that provide family-supporting wages, medical benefits and a reliable pension plan.
“This important partnership will help bring Maryland’s building trades, military servicemembers and construction industry employers closer together for the benefit of all,” said Darrell Roberts, Executive Director of Helmets to Hardhats.
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 training programs, which range from two to five years and include more than 80 trades, including bricklaying, plumbing, carpentry, ironworking and many others.
“Our returning veterans have already shown that they apply their skills and work ethic to the construction trades with the same dedication they demonstrated in defending our country. By making these connections, Helmets to Hardhats helps to create stable, good-paying jobs and to build and rebuild Maryland’s infrastructure. It is a true win-win for all,” said DLLR Secretary Alexander Sanchez.
“Maryland’s veterans are dependable, disciplined team players who can contribute a great deal to the construction industry. In these difficult economic times, it is crucial that we assist Maryland’s veterans in finding jobs that enable them to support their families,” said MdVA Secretary Ed Chow. “Maryland’s partnership with Helmets to Hardhats is a great way to connect our veterans with career opportunities in the skilled trades.”
Maryland’s participation in the Helmets to Hardhats program will support Governor O’Malley’s Skills2Compete initiative – the statewide effort to increase the number of Marylanders who achieve at least two years of post-secondary education or training to meet the demands of Maryland’s diverse workforce – and the Maryland’s Commitment to Veterans (MCV) initiative. MCV is a coordinated effort managed by the Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs to connect veterans across the entire spectrum of state government with services, benefits and employment opportunities.
“America’s Building Trades Unions are extremely delighted to be joined by the O’Malley-Brown administration and the State of Maryland in recognizing the critical importance of assisting our nation’s military veterans in finding secure and stable careers upon the conclusion of their service to our nation. Through its formal support and acknowledgement of the Helmets to Hardhats program, the O’Malley-Brown administration has demonstrated a firm commitment to our veterans that goes beyond just words,” said Sean McGarvey, Secretary-Treasurer of the Building and Construction Trades Department.
“The Helmets to Hardhats program is an important investment in our country’s future. The men and women of our armed services deserve the best career opportunities for construction careers after completing their service to our country. Veterans comprise the best of the best. They are motivated, responsible, and ready and willing to rebuild our country after they have served and fought for our country,” said Iz Cakrane, Vice President of Corporate Labor Relations for the Washington Group International.
The O’Malley-Brown administration has fought hard to protect and expand veteran services. In 2008, Lt. Governor Brown led efforts to pass the Veterans Behavioral Health Act and chairs the Veterans Behavioral Health Advisory Board. This legislation provided veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with expanded access to behavioral and mental health services to ease the transition from combat to the community. In 2009, the Maryland General Assembly partnered with Brown to expand this program to all veterans. Brown also championed efforts to protect veterans scholarship and veteran business loan programs.
Brown spent most of the day in Montgomery County. Immediately prior to the Helmets to Hardhats announcement, he joined County Executive Ike Leggett for a groundbreaking ceremony for the Fillmore Music Hall. Contributing to the revitalization of downtown Silver Spring, the Fillmore project will provide the community with a new music and entertainment venue as a result of a partnership between Montgomery County and Lee Development Group.
Lt. Governor Brown has spent a quarter century as a member of the United States Armed Forces. He is currently a Colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves and is the nation’s highest-ranking elected official to have served a tour of duty in Iraq.