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Queens native argues for something that both sides of the aisle can get behind: world-class apprenticeship training and well-paying careers for our nation’s veterans

Courtesy of Dominick Salvato

BY DOMINICK SALVATO

I served our nation as a Marine for eight years, and I can tell you that the transition from military to civilian life is not easy.

What was next for me, I often wondered.

When a friend introduced me to Helmets to Hardhats, things started to make sense. A door opened – my life changed, and I haven’t looked back since.

A national, nonprofit program, Helmets to Hardhats connects military service members, like me, to federally-approved, privately-funded apprenticeship training programs in the building and construction trades.

I found my place in the International Union of Elevator Constructors (IUEC) Local 1. I entered their apprenticeship training program with zero experience, but that didn’t matter – no prior experience was necessary.

I found camaraderie in my union right away.

Several of my brothers from the Marines found a fulfilling career in the organized elevator industry, too. We work together on jobsites, as we worked together during our service. Even Local 1’s business manager served in the United States Marine Corps.

The solidarity is indescribable, and the investments the union and its signatory contractor partners make in its workforce – people like me – are tremendous. They set us up for success, rather than saddle us with debt.

The IUEC’s apprenticeship training, for example, cost me nothing. I actually earned wages and benefits as I worked through the training. Furthermore, since the apprenticeship training program is regulated and approved at both the federal and state levels, I was able to supplement my income by also utilizing my GI Bill benefits.

Then there’s the IUEC’s pension plan – which is in great shape. As a young man in my 30s, I’m confident in my future. I sleep well at night knowing that my union puts the retirement security of its members ahead of all else.

Whether an elevator constructor, bricklayer, painter, or sheet metal worker (just to name a few), well-paying jobs with unmatched benefits are waiting for all veterans. I am incredibly proud of my career – and I want my fellow service members to know that there is a place for them in the building and construction trades.

This was written by Dominick Salvato, International Union of Elevator Constructors, Local 1.

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