VIP Graduate Featured During DOL's Annual Salute to Veterans
Each year, the U.S. Department of Labor honors those who have served our nation by hosting a Salute to Veterans event at the Department’s Washington D.C. Headquarters. This year’s event was held on November 6, 2013, and the United Association’s Veterans in Piping (VIP) Program was recognized for its success in providing high-quality skills training and guaranteed job placement for active duty military personnel leaving the service.
U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez told the audience that the Salute to Veterans event is about more than just honoring the brave men and women who have served our country proudly. It is also meant to generate serious and ongoing discussion about how we can better connect returning service members to quality jobs in the civilian workforce.
This year’s panel was moderated by veteran and former Congressman Patrick Murphy and focused on the transition process and the need for strong public-private partnerships. Panelists included: Sgt. Dakota Meyer, recipient of the Medal of Honor; Eric Eversole, Executive Director of Hiring Our Heroes; Terry Gerton, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Policy at the Department of Labor’s Veterans’ Employment and Training Service department; and Brother Jose Serans, veteran and graduate of the UA VIP Program.
Brother Serans served in the United States Navy and completed two deployments aboard the U.S.S. Kitty Hawk before he was honorably discharged in 2006. He then spent several years struggling to find a job that would allow him to support his family.
When asked about his transition process and the initial challenges he faced entering the civilian workforce, Brother Serans described his difficulty showing potential employers how his skills and experience could transfer to a civilian career.
The panelists discussed how it is critical that members of the Armed Forces have access to skills training and job placement programs, and that employers recognize the skills and experience that make veterans strong job candidates. In his opening remarks, Secretary Perez urged employers to hire transitioning service members because they possess “essential skills that companies are looking for: leadership, problem-solving and teamwork.”
Brother Serans found out about the UA’s VIP Program after attending a career fair and speaking with a representative from Helmets to Hardhats. After completing the 18-week accelerated program in welding, he was placed as a second-year apprentice at UA Local 5 in Washington, DC. His advice for transitioning service members is to remain open to new opportunities: “Try different things. I found welding . . . and now I love welding.”
General President William P. Hite created the UA VIP Program in 2008, recognizing that our veterans have earned the right to a secure future and possess the skills and discipline needed to succeed in the construction industry.
“It’s a brotherhood . . . It’s really about helping somebody else that needs help,” said Brother Serans.
Mike Hazard, UA Training Specialist who oversees the VIP Program, accompanied Brother Serans and said that he was very proud that the UA is recognized by the Department of Labor as a national leader in promoting veterans employment. The UA VIP Program has served as a gateway to a new life for hundreds of veterans across the country.
(Pictured from left: Eric Eversole, Jose Serans, Sgt. Dakota Meyer, Terry Gerton, Patrick Murphy and Secretary Tom Perez)