In 2001, after the events of September 11, David Huval joined the Army. He knew—and felt—that going into the Army was something he had to do. Huval served from 2001-2005, in an infantry unit with the 10th Mountain Division, gaining leadership skills and a solid idea of what he wanted to do once he was out. “I didn’t really have a direction—college-wise—when I went in. Being in the Army gave me time to consider my options,” says Huval. “When I got out, I knew I wanted to go back to school and I knew what I wanted to go back to school for, so it was a pretty easy transition for me.”
Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for many servicemen. “A lot of guys, when they get out, aren’t really sure what they’re going to do; some of them have families and they can’t drop everything or afford to stop working full time for 2-4 years to go back to school and get a degree someplace,” Huval says. And, as is possible for any part of society, sometimes a 2- to 4-year degree just isn’t desirable. So what’s the alternative? Trade schools, vocational schools, apprenticeships.
H.R. 2551: VETERANS’ ENTRY TO APPRENTICESHIP ACT
H.R. 2551 is a proposed bill that would allow veterans to use their benefits in pre-apprenticeship training programs commonly found in the construction and skilled trade industry. The Veterans’ Entry to Apprenticeship Act would offer veterans alternative options to the traditional 2- to 4-year college. What would this mean for veterans? “Bills like the Veterans’ Entry to Apprenticeship Act would give veterans a chance to—if they’re working—attain a career faster. It would offer a lot of opportunities to these veterans,” says Huval.
The pass/enact rate on the bill so far is low, due in large part to lack of awareness. “The way the community can get behind the bill is by reaching out to their state representatives to make sure they support H.R. 2551,” Huval explains. “The more people that know about the bill, the more chance it will have of getting passed.” So why not reach out to any and everyone, especially your state reps? When passing the bill would offer such benefits as increased opportunities for veterans and increased skilled laborers for the construction industry—a win on both sides—there really is no excuse.
“The trade industry is desperately needing skilled labor workers. It’s just something a lot of people don’t think about when they’re considering what to do after they get out of military; they don’t think about construction trades as an avenue for a career,” says Huval. “Passing this bill would make it easier for leaders in the military to transition out and become leaders in these skilled labor trades.”
Alternatively, if the bill doesn’t pass, we may be looking at ever-increasing unemployment rates. “The unemployed rate of veterans right now is a full point higher than the national average,” says Huval. And with talks of the Army releasing 40,000 soldiers over the next 2 years, that unemployment rate will be on the rise. “That would be, if the proposed bill doesn’t pass, a real shame. It just eliminates extra opportunities for these soldiers getting out of the military.”
But a lack of opportunity isn’t the only obstacle for veterans.
Information is most useful when it’s readily available, easily accessible, and properly disseminated among those to which it applies. In the case of GI benefits, information is often incomplete and difficult—or unnecessarily time-consuming—to access. “I think the problem is that a lot of guys getting out don’t know that they can use the GI Bill for something like construction trades. Recruiters sell the GI Bill to recruits joining the military as, ‘you can go to college, you can go to college, you can go to college,’” explains Huval.
“They don’t tell you that you can use the GI Bill for flight training or correspondence courses, or a list of other things you can actually use it for. The soldiers don’t know they can use it for more than just a traditional college without doing their own research to find out. If you’re uncertain about what benefits you’re eligible for, reach out to your local VA representative and they’ll help you out.”
WHAT IT ALL BOILS DOWN TO
While the GI Bill covers an array of educational ventures most veterans don’t know about, it still doesn’t cover pre-programs. Pre-programs and apprenticeships would allow veterans to earn money while learning their trade; an opportunity traditional colleges don’t offer. It is for this reason Representatives—and veterans—Martha McSally (R-Arizona) and Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) introduced the Veterans’ Entry to Apprenticeship Act.
Whether it’s opening career avenues with apprenticeships via the Veterans’ Entry to Apprenticeship Act or making information more accessible for military members coming back to civilian life, the fact remains the same—our veterans need more opportunities to thrive at home.
David Huval—who graduated from Texas Tech in 2011—joined National Roofing Partners (NRP) in 2013 as the sales and marketing coordinator. “At NRP, we’re proud to support the military and our veterans; we have three veterans that work here in our corporate office,” says Huval. “We care about veterans and would like to spread the word about the Veterans’ Entry to Apprenticeship Act to help them.” ■
For More Information: Head over to NRP’s blog and find out more about the Veterans’ Entry to Apprenticeship Act: www.nationalroofingpartners.com/blog/featured/u-s-soldiers-deserve-independence-in-their-benefits.
Modern Contractor Solutions, Buyers Guide – November 2015
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