November is a month that we traditionally try to give thanks and acknowledge the good in our lives. We get together with friends and family; we cook big meals or find a quiet restaurant; we share something we’re thankful for each day on social media; and we hope that we’re able to sneak home leftover turkey. More importantly, we also celebrate Veterans Day – a day for appreciating those that have served in our military. We take time to thank our servicemen and women for their dedication and willingness to protect our country. This month we would like to expand Veterans’ Day to a month long celebration. Each week, we will be sharing success stories from veterans who have built careers in the construction industry – our Hard Hat Heroes.
That’s not a term we use lightly here at NCCER. Our Hard Hat Heroes initiative is one way that NCCER focuses on supporting our veterans. It allows transitioning military and veterans to receive NCCER credit for skills and training they received while in the service. The credentials that our military members can receive help streamline their entrance back into the civilian world and pave the way for successful career paths. Our alignments are currently for Air Force, Navy, and Army, with more in the works.
When learning about our Hard Hat Heroes initiative, all I could think about was how much something like this could have helped my uncle. He was a Vietnam War veteran and one of my favorite people in the world, probably because he always brought us kids candy. Growing up, I saw how he struggled with finding a place for his skills. He had training from the military – I’d seen the picture of him climbing the telephone poles. However, his transition into using that training when he arrived back home was not as smooth as it could have been. Eventually he was able to build on his skills and became an independent contractor for the telephone industry across America. Having something that aligned his military training with commercial skills may have made the process easier for him.
I was also recently introduced to another organization, NextOp, who focuses on serving our military. NextOp is a nonprofit that connects veterans to industry; specifically, they help find veterans new careers and ensure they adjust successfully. In fact, a few of the veterans whose stories we’ll be sharing this month got started in their new roles through NextOp and with NCCER credentials.
NextOp is unique because they are veterans assisting other veterans. They are uniquely qualified to help military members transition to new roles. Their team consists of Marine Corps, Army and Navy veterans who have also made the successful transition. They pair veterans looking for career changes with mentors and companies searching for what our military personnel represent: hard workers, team players and dedicated employees.
This November, remember to show appreciation for our veterans. Take a moment to reflect on the freedom we enjoy because our military members chose to serve. In the next few weeks, celebrate the success stories of those who have made the transition from military to industry, and keep an eye out for the exciting things coming yet from our Hard Hat Heroes team.
This content originally appeared on the NCCER Breaking Ground Blog.