Military veterans find hope through new program

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THOSE WHO SERVE frequently return home to unemployment. The Utility Workers Military Assistance Program launched in 2011 provides career training specifically developed for military veterans. The Chicago program is funded by the Chicago Federation of Labor Workforce and Community Initiative, the Utility Workers Union of America, and Peoples Gas.

In 2011 the Utility Workers Military Assistance Program (UMAP) launched one of our nation’s first national career training to placement programs specifically developed for military veterans. The unemployment numbers in 2011 were at a staggering 12.1% for our nation’s veterans and there was a critical need to put veterans who had honorably served their country into skilled careers with prevailing wage pay and benefits.

The Utility Workers Union of America (UWUA) established their program in Chicago with UWUA Local18007 and Peoples Gas. Peoples Gas Accelerated Main Replacement Program (AMRP) was the backdrop of the program, focused on modernizing the aging natural gas infrastructure within the city of Chicago, some of which was more than 150 years old. Since conception of the Chicago program they have successfully placed over 500 military veterans through a six-month training to placement program at Kennedy King College in Chicago. The program was built as a public-private partnership funded by the Chicago Federation of Labor Workforce and Community Initiative, the UWUA Power For America Trust and Peoples Gas in Chicago.

Leon Magnum, a U.S. Army veteran said, “We are honored to have partnered with the Allen J. Lynch Medal of Honor Veterans Assistance Program and the Union League Club of Chicago for this January 24, 2018 Event.”

The UWUA Power For America Trust has since expanded the UMAP Program to their Michigan State Utility Workers Council and Consumers Energy. It offers a pre-employment program designed to equip Military Veterans, National Guard and Reservists with the necessary skills for a career in the utility industry with Consumers Energy. Since 2016, 84 Veterans have successfully completed the Michigan program and were hired within the Enhanced Infrastructure Replacement Program.

National attention from Labor, Corporate Industry, Non-Profit Organizations and Veterans Service Organizations from across the country have prompted UMAP and their partners who have lent a hand up to the veterans going through the program to stage a platform for others to learn about the program.

Many Non-for Profit and Veterans Service Organizations over the years have contributed financial aid, gas cards, meal cards, child care services and more to the veterans going through the program. Partners from across the country have assisted UMAP in vetting and recruiting veterans into the program.

A national symposium on Jan. 24 will give one the opportunity to meet and hear testimony from the men and women who have completed the program as well as those just entering into the program. Applicants will have the opportunity to hear the employers’ perspective and how this has benefited the overall landscape of their companies and hiring protocol. In addition, applicants will meet some of the most valued partners who have stood by these men and women, who have honorably worn the uniform, while they put their lives on hold to complete the program. UMAP’s phenomenal non-for-profit partners are eager to remind others how your resources can change the lives of others.

The national symposium starts at 9 a.m. Wednesday, January 24 at the Union League Club, 65 West Jackson.

 

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