Teamsters Military Assistance Program
Helping Veterans Provide for Their Families
Rich Garcia is a rarity in the construction industry. He’s had steady work for 26 years. Recently, his longevity has been thanks to an innovative Teamster initiative called the Teamsters Military Assistance Program (TMAP).
“Using the Teamsters Military Assistance Program enabled me to find a full-time job after my military service, enhance my skills and keep working enough to put food on the table for my family for years.”
This sums up the experience that Garcia, a member of Local 142 in Gary, Ind., has had since he relied upon the guidance of the TMAP. TMAP is associated with the Helmets to Hardhats program, which the Teamsters has been actively involved in for years, and provides employment assistance to military veterans for jobs in the construction industry.
“I’ve had friends in the military who have had trouble finding work once they returned from their tours of duty and my first recommendation to them is that they contact TMAP,” Garcia said. “When I completed my training I was having a lot of difficulty finding work, even though I had truck driving experience. The Teamsters who run TMAP were able to help me out almost immediately.”
Garcia was in the military from 1986-1992 as a combat engineer out of Fort Dix, N.J. He performed maintenance on Hummer vehicles and other heavy equipment. He was basically responsible for anything with wheels.
“My military training gave me the groundwork to be responsible and take charge,” Garcia said.
Even though he had truck-driving experience in the military, TMAP recommended that he take program-sponsored classes for the hauling and handling of hazardous materials. He also took courses to be certified to operate a boom truck. These choices turned out to be assets which helped him get steady full-time work.
Recently, Garcia has been working full time on a construction job at the BP oil refinery in Whiting, Ind. He operates a tri-axle dump truck and a school bus used to shuttle employees to and from the refinery. Originally constructed in 1889, the refinery has been undergoing a modernization process since 2008. New infrastructure elements (an enlarged barge unloading facility and a 47-acre contractor trailer complex) have been part of the improvements.
Values Learned on the Job
Garcia credits his prior training in the military and his membership in the Teamsters with his ability to find full-time work, which allows him to provide for his family as a single parent.
“I take pride in my work and try to be a good employee,” Garcia said.
His diligence and training has paid off. Garcia said the courses he took through TMAP have already paid for themselves “10 times over,” he said.
Many other Teamster members have been assisted by the TMAP program, especially in the Midwest.
“Our Chicago-area local unions have greatly benefited from the training and job placement assistance that TMAP and Helmets to Hardhats provides,” said John Coli, International Vice President and President of Teamsters Joint Council 25 in Chicago. “Veterans’ military training gives them a unique set of talents that are very applicable to construction jobs. We are pleased to have them as brothers and sisters in the Teamster family.”
TMAP Courses Offered
TMAP, in association with Helmets to Hardhats, offers the following courses to veteran, Reserve and Guard communities at no cost to the candidate:
200-Hour Teamster/Military CDL Licensing Program;
Teamster Construction Apprenticeship Program;
Major funding for these courses comes from a National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Worker Training Grants Program. This grant was awarded to the International Brotherhood of Teamsters for use by construction workers at hazardous waste sites, which the Whiting oil refinery plant qualifies as.
Another initiative undertaken by TMAP has been to assist veterans to receive disability payments that may be owed to them. TMAP has produced a Veteran Registration Form, which is available at your local union or through the TMAP website (www.teamster.org/tmap).
Once completed, the form will assist TMAP in tracking down services or funds which may be due to a veteran.
“We’ve already helped military veterans receive payments for chronic illnesses that they otherwise would not have gotten through their insurance companies even while paying a high premium,” said Michael Yauger, President of Local 786 in Chicago and Teamster liaison to the Helmets to Hardhats program.
“Military service can take a great toll on someone physically and emotionally, and we need to support our veterans with the services due to them,” Yauger said. “Financial compensation for an illness or disability acquired during a tour of duty is certainly the least we can do to show our veterans that we care about them.”
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