Program puts vets back in action

Posted Monday, Aug. 26, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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Climbing 300-foot telecommunications towers isn’t a career for everyone. But for some, risk taking is high on the resume, and a new jobs program is targeting that work-force niche -- military veterans.

Barely a month old, Vets To Techs is setting up screening triages at various events around the Fort Worth/Dallas area, including at a golf tournament fund-raiser last week for the Mansfield High School golf team. About 35 veterans turned out.

The screenings include background checks that take a couple of days, but officials say virtually all will be funneled into a free training program to prepare them for jobs already waiting for them.

“It’s a good program because it addresses a real problem for the veterans who are coming home,” said Mansfield Mayor David Cook. “It will give them a real opportunity to get back into the work force.”

Officials say military vets will have a shorter learning curve for these challenging telecommunications jobs.

“It’s tough work,” said Irving Mayor Beth Van Duyne, whose city provided a building for the job program’s headquarters and training. “You have to be in good physical shape. They are looking for disciplined people who already have training, and the military provides excellent training. Vets are obviously in demand.”

At a time of high unemployment locally and nationwide, many high-skill jobs remain vacant. The telecommunications industry, with its thousands of towers and ongoing need for maintenance and updating equipment, is especially short-handed, said Scott Woodard, a Mansfield businessman and program backer whose son is on the Mansfield High varsity golf team.

“You’ve got these towers all over the country that are in need of updating,” Woodard said. “There are 6,000 tower climbers and they need 40,000,” Woodard said.

A program poster promises vets will go directly into jobs paying from $35,000 to $132,000 annually. If that sounds like TV infomercial hype, it’s not, Woodard insisted. Vets To Techs has contracts with many telecommunications that have real, high-salary jobs sitting vacant.

The two- to three-week training course is expected to start next month in Irving, which also has its own vets jobs program.

“The city of Irving has really been focused on our vet program,” Van Duyne said. “And this fits right in with the city’s mission.”

Robert Cadwallader, 817-390-7641 Twitter: @Kaddmann

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