In 2010, the jobless rate for Veterans ages 18 to 24 was one of the highest ever recorded for this age group – 20.6 percent.
A core goal of the National Disabled Veteran Business Council (NDVBC)’s Union Carpenters Apprenticeships program is to confront this number by providing young Veterans with the opportunity to make a decent living and own their own homes. This is a program for Veterans by Veterans. Everyone involved – from the apprentices to the tradespeople – has served.
The program is a clear reflection of NDVBC’s mission. Established in Washington, D.C. in 2007, we work to unite and represent the thousands of disabled Veteran business owners across the country. We assist in the formation and development of organizations in every state to support and serve the disabled Veteran business community.
The apprenticeship program currently operates in two states, Florida and New York. Eventually, our plan is to go nationwide. To give you an idea of how it works, in Florida we have been working with banks to acquire housing stock. Our apprenticeship teams then renovate the houses, providing valuable, on-the-job training. After work is completed, one of the apprentice carpenters is given the house to own.
In other words, we’re taking a depressed housing market and turning it into something good by creating a second economy – and giving Veterans sustainable job training in the process.
To be accepted into the program, Veterans must be GI Bill/Vocational Rehabilitation approved. You will qualify if you are a newly returning or injured Veteran who is fully capable of performing the work. Our training program also has been approved by the U.S. Department of Labor.
We’re proud of the progress we’re making with this program, but like most worthwhile pursuits, it didn’t happen overnight. As an organization, building relationships to support our organization and our Veterans is key to our success.
For us, many of these relationships began at the National Veteran Small Business Conference, the only event of its kind that brings together service disabled Veterans from across the country, and gives Veteran-Owned and Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Businesses the opportunity to learn, interact, and market their businesses.
Each time I’ve attended the conference, I’ve found multiple opportunities to network and discuss the challenges many Veterans face in finding good jobs. I met so many young Veterans that could and wanted to work, but the jobs just didn’t exist. I wanted to find a way to help them. From this, the NDVBC was born.
I initially began attending the National Veteran Small Business Conference because my company was looking to acquire federal contracts. Although we had been in business for many years, we had not succeeded in obtaining any. The conference helped us understand the process.
As a result, we’ve built many relationships that have helped our organization grow and thrive. I highly recommend other Veteran business owners interested in working with the federal government to attend. You’ll get a lot of good information on how to go after government contracts – and even be able to speak with actual contracting officers at the conference, an invaluable benefit.
We will be at the conference again this year to promote the Union Carpenters Apprenticeship program, and speak to Veterans interested in joining us in making it a success. We’ll also continue to build on the solid relationships we’ve made at the conference in previous years, and make some new ones.
The conference will take place this year from August 15-18 in New Orleans and you may register now.
Hiring Veterans and creating quality job opportunities for them is one way this country can pay it forward for the service and sacrifice they’ve given us.
Joe Franklin is an Army Reserve Service Disabled Veteran and co-founder of the National Disabled Veteran Business Council.