After coming back from deployment as an enlisted soldier, Martin Helms was struggling. He had a young household, function, school and a navy obligation. Then he sat in a 5-minute presentation for Helmets to Hardhats and, as he tells it, his daily life modified.

“[Joining] the structured trades was what I desired to go forward and accomplish a good deal of targets,” Helms said. 

Martin Helms

Authorization granted by Helmets to Hardhats


Helms eventually graduated from the Akron Location Electrical Joint Apprenticeship Teaching Committee (AAEJATC) turning into a journey-amount electrician in the Intercontinental Brotherhood of Electrical Employees Regional Union 306 and then a foreman. In 2017, Helms took on a new purpose as the teaching director of the AAEJATC.

As he labored his way up by the AAEJATC, Helms’ navy vocation also progressed. In 2013, he became a building engineer technician in the Ohio Military Countrywide Guard, employing that expertise in deployments to the Center East and ongoing condition missions.

Now, Helms is bringing his teaching, management, navy and recruitment practical experience back to the organization that assisted give him a vocation way. He is getting around as the executive director of the Helmets to Hardhats software, a nonprofit organization recognized in 2003. The Washington D.C.-based software is administered by the Heart for Armed forces Recruitment, Assessment, and Veterans Work.

“Our mission is to recruit navy veterans into the qualified trades,” Helms said. “We do this in a quantity of approaches.”

Helmets to Hardhats targets navy users that are transitioning out of total-time service, Countrywide Guard users and present navy veterans. “It truly is pretty considerably open up to any veteran with an honorable or health care discharge,” Helms said.

The organization gets the term out by going to navy installations and doing work with community teams. It has fostered relationships with the Section of Protection and the Section of Veterans Affairs.

Transiting to building

Services users are nicely equipped to changeover to building, which requires adaptability simply because “practically nothing goes as prepared,” according to Helms.

“Armed forces individuals are place in crappy conditions for a good deal of explanations,” Helms said. “You will not know what your ecosystem is going to be, and who you are going to have to offer with. So you establish a psychological capability that helps make you alter to whatever that ecosystem is to achieve the mission.”

Services users really should also have the power and endurance to manage in some cases physically demanding building work. But the similarities in the two vocation paths will not conclusion there.

“[Armed forces users] are made use of to getting there and at a sure time and obtaining a job to do,” Helms said. “That matches into the construction of the navy. You have to be there at a sure spot and time to be prepared to go. And you normally know what has to be finished.”

The building trades can be an eye-catching vocation for service users simply because they can employ their added benefits from the GI Bill with registered apprenticeship companies. For navy users who have to help people, getting in a position to receive earnings by teaching is specially effective. 

“They get to accumulate their GI Bill and they can have that earnings that everybody needs,” Helms said.

As Helmets to Hardhats grows, Helms would like to focus on growth in building management and administrative positions. 

“We also need to do excellent outreach,” Helms said. “We have just gotten by 18 or twenty months of the pandemic and there are service users who need excellent work.”