A pilot program between the New Jersey Turnpike Authority and the Helmet to Hardhat Program (NJ-H2H) designed helps former military personnel find jobs in the construction trades has been unanimously approved this morning by the Assembly Military and Veterans Affairs Committee.

(Flickr: rkimpeljr)

Assemblyman John Amodeo, who is a retired licensed crane operator and a member of Operating Engineers Local 825, is a primary sponsor of the bill. Assemblyman Chris A. Brown, who served in the Persian Gulf War as part of Operation Desert Storm, is a co-sponsor.

The agreement between the Turnpike Authority and Helmets to Hardhats marks another positive step in helping our returning service men and women obtain employment,” says Amodeo. “Learning a trade presents a potential carrier path and working on highway projects overseen by the Turnpike Authority will provide our veterans with invaluable experience. All anyone can ask for is a chance to prove themselves and this pilot program opens the door for our patriots who just need an opportunity.”

The 18-month pilot program stipulates that highway projects awarded by the authority will allocate at least 5 percent but not more than 20 percent of the projected labor hours to contractors who participate in the Helmets to Hardhats Program. Once the pilot is completed, the Turnpike Authority will evaluate the success of the program by determining the number of participants who were able to obtain employment in the construction industry and what impact, if any, the program had on the costs of highway projects.

Brown explains, “It is laudable that government, academia, and the public and private sectors can come together and provide an opportunity to those who gave so much. Veterans confront some difficult challenges when they return to civilian life. I am proud that New Jersey recognizes this transition is not always easy and is ready to afford them a chance to find employment and build a career.”

Earlier this year, “VETeach” legislation was signed into law which is also a pilot program offering returning veterans an opportunity to receive training in a 36-month teacher preparation program, administered by Richard Stockton College of New Jersey.