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. Cecilia A. Clark, Talent Acquisition Manager at NextOp, provided information regarding NextOp to this blog.


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  1. Chris Newton | Nov 07, 2017

    Chris Newton, US Navy retired Senior Enlisted.  Cajun Industries, LLC Workforce Development Manager  NCCER Management instructor/Master Trainer/Hard Hat Heroes contributor.

    Gene and Gary, thank you for sharing.  We are working hard at providing those in uniform information about careers in construction as you both have found. Crosswalks to help both members and employers have been created and last year launched a credentialing portal to take those military craft skills and convert to NCCER completions.

    The success we see in veterans in construction is unparalleled and we need more folks bringing not only their military provided skill training, but the leadership, commitment and motivation.   Having transitioned and experienced the stress as a senior leader, I can only imagine what a junior member is going through.   I always remember asking Sailors when they were getting out, what's the one thing you would change about the navy, and over 75% always replied, I just wanted to be a technician. 

    Well,  here's your chance and we need you!

  2. Gary Pedersen | Nov 04, 2017

    gary pedersen us navy retired chief/master electrician/NCCER certified instructor

    i was trained in the electronics/electrical fields but it was more shipboard training tried several jobs until i found construction and was able to find the joy of performance that i had in the navy. i was approach by a former ship mate and asked if i like to be an instructor for the local electrial contractor association and i was happy about the oppurtunity to again pass on the knowledge that i had to willing people that looked forward to learning more about our trade and the many differt areas it can go from residential installations, commercial,industrial, maintenance and troubleshooting upto inspections

  3. gene senter us army (retired)/ master electrician/NCCER certified instructor | Nov 03, 2017
    i was trained as an electrician in the u.s. army. after a 20 year military career, retiring in 1991 as an instructor at the us army engineer school, i took my skills to the civilian world. it did not take very long to become employed by a electrical contractor. i took advantage of all the educational opportunities in the military as well of my civilian employer had to offer. i'm presently retired as a full time electrician but i teach electrical apprenticeship for member contractors and  high school students who want to get a start in the electrical field, part time, for the past 25 years. all the attributes that i found in the military i also found in the construction trade. many of my present or former students were veterans starting their career in the electrical field.

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    About NCCER

    NCCER develops standardized construction and maintenance curricula and assessments with portable credentials. These credentials are tracked through NCCER’s National Registry which allows organizations and companies to track the qualifications of their craft professionals and/or check the qualifications of possible new hires. The National Registry also assists craft professionals by maintaining their records in a secure database.