On Nov. 7, Donald Norcross and Andy Kim, two U.S. Democratic Congressmen from New Jersey, announced the Bringing Registered Apprenticeships to Veterans Education (BRAVE) Act, which if enacted, would ensure that all transitioning servicemembers are provided information on registered apprenticeship opportunities within the trades.
“We owe it to our veterans to help give them every opportunity to succeed,” Kim said. “The building trades, through programs like Helmets to Hardhats, have created a path to achieve the American Dream for so many in our community. The BRAVE Act would help expand that opportunity to many more.”
The bill requires the Department of Veterans Affairs to create a user-friendly online system for veterans to access VA-certified registered apprenticeship programs with proven track records and endorsed by organizations like the Helmets to Hardhats, a national, nonprofit that connects servicemembers with opportunities in the construction industry. The program is administered by the Center for Military Recruitment, Assessment, and Veterans Employment and headquartered in Washington, D.C.
Veteran Stephan Jackson, an IBEW 351 member and a Helmets to Hardhat apprentice, said in the announcement that the transition to civilian life can sometimes be “very rough.”
“Veterans come out in need of guidance and direction,” Jackson said. “They are in need of the type of things Congressmen Norcross and Kim are introducing today through this bill. Thank you for giving us veterans an opportunity to perform, to learn, to develop and to build a future that allows us as Americans to do what we have been trained to do, and that is serve.”
In 2007, Helmets to Hardhats supplemented its existing program with a disabled American veteran program known as the “Wounded Warrior” program, which serves to connect disabled veterans with employment opportunities in the construction industry and the careers that support construction.
Norcross said they would begin distributing the bill and looking for signatories after returning to Congress on Nov. 12, the day following Veteran’s day and during the fifth annual National Apprenticeship Week held Nov. 11-17.
Norcross expects bipartisan support for the bill, saying, “I’m trying to figure out why anybody wouldn’t sign on to this one.”