Helmets to Hardhats: Career transition success stories

English/Anglais IS2010-9756-02 February 6, 2010 WHISTLER, BRITISH COLUMBIA Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Corporal Duane Ivany (right), and Constable Mark Levesque, specially trained in Fall Suppression, conduct a security sweep of the grandstand at the Whistler Sliding Centre prior to the start of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games. The RCMP-led Integrated Security Unit (ISU) is responsible for all security operations during the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. The ISU is comprised of personnel from the RCMP, Canadian Forces and 118 other police departments from across Canada. In preparation for the Games, security and public safety agencies from all levels of government are working together to ensure they are prepared to respond to any potential emergency on land, sea or in the air. The scope and scale of these Games will make it the largest domestic security operation to date in Canadian history. Photo credit: Sergeant Frank Hudec, Canadian Forces Combat Camera French/Français IS2010-9756-02 6 février 2010 WHISTLER (COLOMBIE-BRITANNIQUE) Le caporal Duane Ivany (à droite) et le gendarme Mark Levesque, de la Gendarmerie royale du Canada (GRC), qui ont suivi une formation spéciale en prévention des chutes, participent au ratissage de sécurité du stade au Centre des sports de glisse de Whistler avant le début des Jeux olympiques d’hiver de 2010 à Vancouver. Le Groupe intégré de sécurité (GIS), dirigé par la Gendarmerie royale du Canada, est responsable de toutes les opérations de sécurité durant les Jeux olympiques et paralympiques d’hiver de 2010 à Vancouver. Le GIS est composé de membres du personnel de la GRC, des Forces canadiennes et de 118 services de police du Canada.1 En vue des Jeux, des organismes de sécurité et de sécurité publique de tous les ordres du gouvernement collaborent afin de s’assurer qu’ils sont prêts à répondre à tout type d’urgence sur terre, sur mer et dans les airs. Ces jeux, en raison de leur portée et de leur ampleur, constitueront la plus vaste opération de sécurité intérieure de l’histoire canadienne. Photo : Sergent Frank Hudec, Caméra de combat des Forces canadiennes v2010 vancouver 2010

Ontario Construction News staff writer

Helmets to Hardhats has placed hundreds of veterans in satisfying and well-paying careers in unionized construction trades. Here are some testimonials from the helmetstohadhats.ca site. (The website respecting individual privacy, doesn’t provide the full names of individual veterans, but does for the union business agents/representatives.)

Windsor: Sheet metal worker

“When Nicole applied for a sheet metal worker apprenticeship, little did we know how fortunate we were. The Apprenticeship Committee told me after interviewing her that not only was she the most prepared and by far the best applicant ever interviewed, she scored the highest on our aptitude test! She is now well underway in her apprenticeship at Industrial Metal Fabricators.
Nicole helped out at the Women in Construction Booth at this year’s Future Build and received many accolades from the people she worked with there. I personally have never met anyone as pleasant and respectful as Nicole, I know that she will be an asset to our union and am proud to have registered with the Helmets to Hardhats program. I’d recommend others to consider accepting vets from the H2H program – you won’t be disappointed, and you’ll be helping those who’ve done their duty for Canada!

            Mike Mahon Business Manager S.M.W.I.A Local 235 Windsor/Chatham

“I was completely unaware of sprinkler and fire protection as a career option…”

“I would just like to thank H2H for helping my find a new career with Local 853 Sprinkler Fitters of Ontario. The process to getting in was pretty simple with a little patience, and after completing my orientation and working-at-heights training, I was out on a work site within a week. I can honestly say I was completely unaware of sprinkler and fire protection as a career option and it was all thanks to H2H and Local 853 for being supportive of them.

After a few years of unsuccessful searching for a new career before H2H’s support, it is extremely refreshing to find an employer who understands the benefits of hiring a previous members of the Canadian Armed Forces. Thanks again!”


“My training in the program has helped me build strong trade skills…”

“I would like to thank Helmets to Hardhats for playing a vital roll in my entry to the construction industry. Within just a few days of having contacted H2H, I was immediately placed into a competitive apprenticeship program with one of the most sought after unions in the GTA. My training in the program has helped me build strong trade skills as well as the knowledge and confidence to succeed in the field of construction.”

Michele L.

“A couple hours later I got a call and they offered me a job to start on Monday…”

“I sent the Operative Plasterers and Cement Masons International Association an e-mail with a cover letter and resume, and explained that I was In the Helmets to Hardhats program and that I am in the military. A couple hours later I got a call and they offered me a job to start on Monday.

I have workplace safety training this weekend before I start. Best part about it is that it is right here in Windsor so I don’t have to move. I just wanted to inform you because you have helped me out so much through the process and I really appreciate it. Thanks again ”


“More importantly, our contractors have expressed a high level of satisfaction with the work ethic of our vets in the workplace.”

            Over the past months we’ve had the pleasure of accepting six of the H2H vets in our Local. We were particularly impressed at how quickly they stood out for their professionalism, focus and determination during the applicant process. More importantly, our contractors have expressed a high level of satisfaction with the work ethic of our vets in the workplace. We now have three more candidates that just went through our new intake and are looking forward to starting these new apprentices within the next couple of months. It’s rewarding to be part of such a winning program, knowing that it can really make a difference for our vets as they transition into a new career and their presence in our brotherhood only makes our union stronger.”

            Michael Reid, business manager United Association (UA) Local 71 Ottawa

“My experience with the Helmets to Hardhats program is that it is positively worthwhile.”

“For any program to work there has to be total commitment from all three partners. The apprentice, the union and most importantly the contractor. My experience with the Helmets to Hardhats program is that it is positively worthwhile. I personally believe our veterans deserve respect. The sole nature and purpose of any union organization to promote fraternal order. When these young men are brought into our organization, they are given a standing ovation.
It’s a great fit for us as these new members, \ due to their military training, are disciplined and have inherent leadership skills. Our contractors’ evaluations are that their performance has been positive. So with these results, we look forward to a continual participation with Mr. Matte and the Helmet to Hard Hat endeavour.”

Ross Tius, business manager, UA Local 663, Sarnia, ON

“We want you, let us know when you’re available.”

“My hat goes off to you, you really helped me out. I had an interview today with UA Local 71 and I was accepted for an apprenticeship position as a plumber starting Aug. 4. They were very up front about being on board with Helmets to Hardhats, and more or less said,”We want you, let us know when you’re available.”  I will be picking up my letter of offer on Monday.
Going to see Helmets to Hardhats was one of the best moves I’ve ever made, and one of the most helpful organizations I’ve ever been in contact with. ”


“My previous military background has allowed me to hit the ground running…”

            “Everything is going well. The whole process from applying online to being accepted in a position with the union was pretty straight forward. I appreciate the opportunity H2H has given me to transition into a new career. My previous military background has allowed me to hit the ground running and pick up new skills easily. I would recommend the sprinkler and fire protection trade and Local 853 for any veteran. I received my safety training through the union and was to work the next day. ”



  1. I would like to thank Mike and his team for the transition from military to a trade. We all know it is hard enough leaving the military and trying to find a right fit and work place. I have just recently joined local 67 plumbing and pipefitter in Hamilton Ontario and it’s the first time since I have retired from the military that I feel like I belong. I would recommend helmets to hard hats for any military personel who is leaving the military. The union is a brother hood very simuliar to the one we all know in the military. Once again thanks very much and I look forward to my new career.

    Thanks Vincent Clayton


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