Invest in Veterans
America’s Armed Forces Provide Great Recruits for the Construction, Landscape and Ag Trades
By Keith Gribbins Jul 06, 2012
Both big projects and successful businesses take team efforts. Maintaining a top construction company, Ag operation or landscape crew requires the right mix of smart and high-spirited employees who work together — fair and diligent foremen, highly skilled equipment operators, by-the-books managers and hard-working boots on the ground that can do it all. To find these types of marquee employees, contractors need to look no further than veterans from America’s armed forces.
The U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard tend to benchmark terms like teamwork, responsibility, respect for authority, discipline, drive and success.
Hiring managers are looking for candidates with the desire to become masters of their craft, and men and women with military backgrounds understand that having a best-of-the-best attitude and a true commitment to professionalism are hallmark characteristics of a quality service member. The same holds true in the trades.
This issue of Compact Equipment is aimed at connecting professional contractors in the construction, landscape and farming industries with those veterans from America’s armed forces. Over the next nine pages, we’ve compiled 10 programs aimed at either A) placing veterans into construction, landscape or Ag jobs or B) finding contractors to help families of veterans rebuild their lives back home. We honor all 10 of these organizations for their dedication to both the U.S. military and America’s trades. These programs continue to give veterans a genuine opportunity to earn family-supporting wages and well-deserved benefits when they come home, so they too can realize the American dream.
Keith Gribbins is managing editor of Compact Equipment, based in Peninsula, Ohio.
Providing Military Talent to the Construction IndustryBy Allison Thomas
Orion International is the nation’s largest military recruiting firm and specializes in placing top military leaders, engineers and technicians into companies that recognize the value of these veterans. With offices located throughout the United States and an all-veteran recruiting and sales team, Orion is the firm of choice for transitioning military professionals, as well as America’s top companies seeking to hire the best. The company is proud to have served as “America’s Leadership Solution” since 1991.
Orion is a supporting member of Joining Forces, a White House initiative to involve all sectors of society to provide improved opportunities to veterans and their families in the areas of employment, education and wellness. Orion facilitates the direct participation of its client companies wishing to pledge their support to the initiative through military hiring events cosponsored by the Joining Forces initiative. Recent events have been held at Fort Hood, Texas, Fort Bragg, N.C., Baltimore, and Austin, Texas, with monthly events scheduled for the remainder of 2012. Military hiring events have been featured on the White House blog and by other media outlets. Additionally, First Lady Michelle Obama recently recognized the 50,000th Joining Forces hire, through Orion, during a visit to Kansas City Railroad.
Orion brings qualified veterans to its client companies through comprehensive transition assistance, including career counseling and mentorship, résumé assistance, interview preparation and arranging interviews for positions that match their background and qualifications. Orion provides its candidates with these services at no cost. By fully preparing candidates for their transition to the civilian workplace, Orion is able to provide the best in military talent, recruited specifically for companies’ hiring needs.
Clients from many different industries utilize Orion to help develop a military hiring program designed to give them a competitive edge in their workplace. These companies understand the many benefits of hiring veterans, from the obvious benefit of having a hardworking, innovative workforce to the less apparent benefit of workplace safety cost reductions due to the veterans’ experience with safety protocols. Additionally, Orion’s transitioning military candidates have a higher retention rate than any other category of candidates, more than 90 percent at two years.
Orion has found careers for more than 1,000 veterans in the construction industry. Veterans are ideal for careers in construction due to their skills, such as time and resource management, organization, flexibility, adaptability, communication and managing people and situations. A few positions Orion has found ideal for veterans within homebuilding, commercial and industrial construction include: project engineers; project managers; estimators; superintendents and assistant superintendents; leadership development programs; logistics and distribution coordinators; equipment operators; maintenance mechanics; service technicians; site superintendents; electricians; facilities and building controls specialists; and warehouse supervisors.
Orion alumnus and former Marine Corps Officer Chris Canfield is a great example of just how well veterans perform in these roles. Canfield transitioned out of the Marine Corps and started a career with RQ Construction in Carlsbad, Calif., through Orion in 2008. Since that time, he has been rapidly promoted, which he attributes to his time in the service.
“The rapid promotion was based on my leadership, management and communication experience gained in the military,” says Canfield, now a project manager for RQ. “During that time, I also helped write various parts of our company’s proposals, mainly because I was able to understand what the lingo was and how it applied to our projects.”
For more information on Orion International and its job placement program, visit www.orioninternational.com.
Allison Thomas is a marketing specialist with Orion International, based in Tampa, Fla.
Veterans Green Jobs
Putting Veterans to Work in the Growing Green IndustryBy John Toth
The national unemployment rate for post-9/11 military veterans is up to 9 percent and upwards of 30 percent for younger veterans. At the same time, green sector industries such as renewable energy are growing. As companies look to fill positions at all levels, from entry-level to managerial and administrative, many are turning to our country’s former servicemen and women as an important hiring pool.
Veterans Green Jobs is a Denver-based, national nonprofit organization that is putting veterans to work in sustainable jobs. Its mission is to engage, transition and connect military veterans with meaningful employment opportunities that serve our communities and environment. Determined to reverse the high veteran unemployment trend, the nonprofit provides assistance through its Veterans Green Force program, which matches veterans with green employers that have available jobs. It also connects veterans with training and education programs that offer skill-building and hands-on experiences to prepare veterans for the transition to the civilian workforce.
Known for attributes such as strong work ethic, mission-focus, team-building abilities and an innate sense of safety, military veterans are well suited for green sector jobs. Employers benefit from these qualities — and may benefit financially as well. The Returning Heroes Tax Credit and the Wounded Warrior Tax Credit were included in the American Jobs Act and signed into law by President Obama in 2011 to encourage employers to hire from this exceptional talent pool.
Veterans Green Force is unique in two ways: an exclusive green jobs focus and one-on-one counseling. First, veterans get in touch via the web, at job fairs or other networking events and fill out an application. Through counseling, their current skills and military experience are assessed, their résumé is refined to match available job openings and a career path is identified. If needed, veterans are guided toward training to help develop skills. They are then connected with employers who seek skilled workers — and once a match is made, regular follow-up ensures a good fit.
To achieve this, Veterans Green Jobs relies on strategic partnerships with private businesses, government agencies, nonprofit organizations, professional associations and higher education institutions that provide jobs and/or training programs to military veterans. Namaste Solar is one commercial and residential solar services company that is working to match veterans with solar jobs. Benny Faraone, a field supervisor at Namaste Solar, hired Dan Conerd, a U.S. Army veteran, to work on a contract installing solar panels at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colo. Namaste has committed to partnering with veterans who have transferable skills and some technical training and are looking for employment in the solar field. Most of the company’s hiring needs are short-term, but, Faraone says, “If it’s a good fit initially, we’ll try to figure out how to create more opportunities.”
Conerd impressed Faraone with his technical experience, construction training and a management background — combined with personal qualities such as discipline, leadership and attention to detail and safety. “We’re not hiring someone who hasn’t been through a regimen,” Faraone says. “It’s not an easy job, and we have been able to lean heavily on Dan and put him in positions of responsibility.”
Faraone emphasizes the importance of transferable technical abilities when it comes to the solar industry. “In the military you pick a path that’s technical, and you specialize in it, whether it’s in the electrical, construction or communications fields,” he says. “Service members are trained in those areas and can now put them to direct use in a different industry.”
Conerd says the match works well for him too: “I believe that solar technology — and renewable energy in general — helps us get away from consumption of gas and oil. I may not be fighting wars anymore, but I’m still helping the country. It’s important to me and other veterans.”
Veterans and employers can learn more about Veterans Green Jobs at www.veteransgreenjobs.org.
John Toth (retired, U.S. Army) is senior director of veterans programs for Veterans Green Jobs, based in Denver.
Helmets to Hardhats
Finding Construction Careers for Veterans Transitioning from Military ServiceBy Keith Gribbins
Supporting our troops doesn’t just mean honoring their heroism on the field of battle. It goes beyond that, to helping the men and women in our armed forces bring their bravery, work ethic and knowledge back home, establishing careers where their years of service to our country can continue with success. Helmets to Hardhats (H2H) is such an organization. Conceived in 2002, and established in 2003, it is a conduit for helping U.S. military veterans, reservists and national guardsmen find careers in the construction industry after their time in the United States armed forces.
“Our goal is to be an advocate; providing a direct link to military job seekers to the best careers throughout the construction industry,” says Darrell L. Roberts, executive director of Helmets to Hardhats. “There is a great deal of satisfaction for us personally when we are able to help a United States service member find the career they desire. Not only is the service member happy, but the company who employs them has found a great employee.”
Give us a construction crew of hardworking, military-caliber employees any day of the week, and we think most companies would agree. Participation for vets in H2H is easy. Simply visit www.helmetstohardhats.org and click the “Get Started” button to create and activate your profile. Once your profile is activated, you can browse thousands of career and training postings and apply for these opportunities electronically. Also, as a registered candidate, feel free to contact H2H at (866) 741-6210 to speak with well-informed program advocates who possess either a strong military or a building trades background or both. The H2H team can help you determine which craft is the best fit for you and provide you with valuable information about career opportunities currently available in your area.
“Construction is an easy transition for our service members,” says Roberts. “There are some strong similarities, such as a chain of command, objectives and a sense of accomplishment after a project or their training is completed. The construction professionals and companies we work with are associated with the best trained, safest construction workforce in the world.”
Flipping the coin, construction contractors can use the program to hire hard-working veterans. Interested employers and companies are encouraged to request access online. Employers who qualify for the H2H program gain access to a pool of construction industry career seekers who are hardworking, drug-free, safety-conscience and highly dependable.
Also, the H2H website provides many great tools for employers to help them locate career seekers who have special skills. Do you need someone with underwater welding experience? Would you like to interview a military EMT with frontline field experience who is now considering a civilian career in construction safety and health? H2H candidates possess specialized training, hands-on experience and professional discipline that you simply cannot find in the regular workforce.
“All around it’s great,” says Stephen McKunes, an apprentice for Helmets to Hardhats with nine years experience as a Technical Sergeant in the Air Force. “You get involved in union meetings and going to a lot of the union functions. You get to meet everybody and everybody’s real nice. Right now we’re doing the sheet metal portion — HVAC. We’re doing fabrication and installation of duct work. I really had no previous experience. But being on time, putting in an honest effort and working hard is what I learned in the Air Force and that translates pretty well for most trades.”
For more information on H2H, visit www.helmetstohardhats.org.
Keith Gribbins is managing editor of Compact Equipment, based in Peninsula, Ohio.
Workshops for Warriors
The San Diego-Based Veterans Program Is Teaching Old Recruits New Welding TricksBy Keith Gribbins
Heroes walk among us, wielding plasma cutters, TIG torches, welding guns and a love for progressive metalworking. Out in San Diego, heroes from America’s armed forces are learning the fine craft of expert welding thanks to the help of Workshops for Warriors, which is training vets the welding and fabricating skills they will need to find quality jobs as skilled laborers.
“I strongly believe in empowering our veterans who have served our country,” says Hernán Luis y Prado, president of Workshops for Warriors. “We believe that vocational training, combined with real-world job experience, empowers veterans and also increases their career options, their confidence and their self-respect. I have seen too many men and women return from service with disabilities or no career path in place. After their service, they are often challenged to find their place in civilian life, finding it difficult to translate their military experience to civilian jobs. The training and certifications we offer demonstrate to a civilian employer their abilities and ensures a life-long career. Since 2011, we have had close to 50 veterans graduate and find jobs — a 100 percent graduation and employment rate.”
Luis y Prado himself has served in Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait and Bahrain. Born in Argentina, he emigrated to the United States at the age of two and joined the Navy as soon as he graduated college. After years attached to mortar squads, machine guns, heavy weapons and the Marine Corps’ Super Squad, he obtained his commission as a Surface Warfare Officer through Officer Candidate School. While in college and in the Navy, Luis y Prado studied electrical and mechanical engineering, machining, CNC and MIG, TIG and Stick welding processes. His work with returning veterans started informally while stationed in Bethesda, Md., at the National Naval Medical Center.
“It all started in my garage,” says Luis y Prado. “I had metal fabrication and woodworking tools and opened my garage to friends so they could come over during their medical rehabilitations. Originally, they’d come over and tinker, but, after a while, their tinkering became more intense and more and more people started coming. Once my wife and I settled in San Diego, we committed to establishing a formal apprenticeship and certification program. We had the equipment and passion to offer veterans formal training.”
In October 2011, Workshops for Warriors moved into a 28,000-sq ft facility across from the 32nd Street Naval Base, setting up numerous work areas to focus on specific skills, including welding, sheet metalworking, CNC plasma and diesel and gasoline engine repair. The program now has both full-time instructors and volunteers that include welders, ASE-certified mechanics, contractors and underwater welders. The shop offers a flexible curriculum that includes formal classes and informal training sessions to help fit the schedules of its students. The program has the capacity to train 48 students each year in its welding program, 48 in its machining and milling programs and 24 students in computer-aided manufacturing design.
The program is starting to get the praise it deserves — from national television coverage to excellent articles in publications like Compact Equipment. On May 24, the White House Office of Public Engagement even honored Luis y Prado as one of 11 individuals within the veterans’ community (especially those who served in Vietnam) who are Champions of Change. These individuals have shown continued support for efforts to end veterans’ homelessness, boost veterans’ employment, treat problems with substance abuse and develop treatment programs for those dealing with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
For more information on Workshops for Warriors, call (619) 550-1620 or visit www.workshopsforwarriors.org.
Keith Gribbins is managing editor of Compact Equipment, based in Peninsula, Ohio.
Fighting to Help Veterans Find Jobs in America’s Farming FutureBy Keith Gribbins
The United States needs indispensable foot soldiers at home and on the farm. Despite land consolidation and declining overall employment, there are still satisfying and successful careers available in the farming market. An increasing number of small-scale farmers are developing successful market niches, and Ag Warriors is an organization focused on helping veterans find those up-and-coming farming careers.
“Ag Warriors grew from the idea that given the opportunity, returning veterans will excel in a work environment where ability, integrity, morals and courage are valued,” says Jerry Sinift, CEO of the International Agri-Center.
The mission of Ag Warriors is to identify, develop and place returning veterans in long-term careers within the agriculture industry following their military service. The organization was founded in 2011 at the International Agri-Center, a non-profit corporation formed in 1976 to produce the now World Ag Expo (formerly known as the California Farm Equipment Show) and to promote California’s agriculture industry. Based in the heart of over 350 commodities and the largest food and fiber market in the world, Ag Warriors is aimed at responding to the need to provide fresh ideas to the agriculture business community and industry.
“By helping our nation’s veterans transition from military service to civilian agriculture careers, we are committed to identify, develop and place individuals with both an interest in and aptitude for the agriculture industry,” says Sinift.
The program identifies with the challenges of recently returned veterans who return home and face difficulty starting new careers. Ag Warriors believes the agriculture industry community is well suited to provide jobs to many returning soldiers. Unfortunately, many of those who might otherwise excel in this industry lack the required training, certification, familiarity or access to initiate such a career. The Ag Warriors program at the International Agri-Center will facilitate the necessary contacts and tools our returning veterans will need to enter the agricultural industry.
The program has already joined forces with some impressive educational institutions throughout California. West Hills College Coalinga, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, California State University, Fresno and College of the Sequoias are working with the Ag Warriors program and the International Agri-Center to develop plans to assist returning service members seeking training in the agricultural field.
“Educational institutions are a huge asset to the agriculture industry,” says Marianne Hudgens, special events coordinator with Ag Warriors. “These institutions provide additional training and certification that is essential to veterans returning to the civilian workforce. College of the Sequoias provides helicopter training specifically for veterans that is fully funded and provides college credits to a veteran. Fresno State and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo are leaders in agriculture management and operations degrees. In offering these programs with partnering schools, we hope to give veterans other opportunities in expanding their knowledge of the Ag world.”
For more information on Ag Warriors, call (559) 688-1030 or visit www.agwarriors.com.
Keith Gribbins is managing editor of Compact Equipment, based in Peninsula, Ohio.
The Mission Is to Mobilize Veterans to Feed AmericaBy Emily Randall
America needs a new generation of farmers and food leaders, and the Farmer-Veteran Coalition (FVC) believes U.S. soldiers possess the unique skills and character needed to strengthen rural communities and create sustainable food systems. Based out of Davis, Calif., the organization develops meaningful, long-lasting careers for veterans in the Ag industry, ensuring two of America’s greatest natural resources are protected.
“The Farmer-Veteran Coalition gives veterans the opportunity to feed their communities and families, providing agricultural security for this country,” explains Michael O’Gorman, a seasoned organic farmer and FVC founder. “Farming also creates a unique opportunity for veterans to find peace and quiet.”
FVC’s goal is to assist 10,000 veterans through training, mentorship and direct assistance for the farming community. The program believes that food production offers purpose, opportunity and physical and psychological benefits to American veterans.
FVC provides a wide variety of services designed to assist veterans in making a successful transition into an agricultural career. The organization’s resource guide compiles information from a wide variety of sources in one location and allows the veteran to minimize time while searching for resources pertaining to their unique interests. The resource guide was developed in order to give beginning farmer veterans a comprehensive list of programs and organizations and expand their knowledge of the agricultural sector.
FVC has also developed worksheets designed to function as assessment tools in order to better determine appropriate resources for a specific veteran. The organization staff reviews completed worksheets and informs the farmer veterans about specific resources available and match them with helpful organizations and programs. When possible, FVC will pair veterans with mentors.
FVC job and internship placement programs are designed to match veterans with opportunities in the agriculture industry. Job placement is the responsibility of the FVC employment officer who will network within the agriculture industry to determine employment needs and gaps that can be filled by veterans. The organization also works with veterans looking to build their knowledge base through hands-on means.
Internships and apprenticeships allow veterans with little or no agricultural background to access knowledge and experience outside of an academic (four-year university) setting, while focusing on practical application of everyday farm operations. The program maintains a list of these types of programs and can often refer a veteran to a program that will best suit their needs.
Finally, FVC runs an in-house small grants program called the Fellowship Fund. The purpose of the Fellowship Fund is to assist veterans beginning a career in food and farming through small grants for education or farming purposes. The Fellowship Fund is also designed to assist veteran farmers with business expansion, through equipment purchase, assistance with certifications, building materials and labor. Grants can be used for training or for the purchase of farming materials and equipment, depending on the grantor’s stipulation.
“The organization provides Iraq and Afghanistan veterans with informational resources on beginning farming operations, educational retreats, conferences and, when available, small grants,” says O’Gorman. “We are in contact with over 500 veterans in 47 states, and this number is increasing steadily as awareness surrounding the concept of veterans in agriculture grows.”
Emily Randall is the media and communications manager for the Farmer-Veteran Coalition, based in Davis, Calif.
Veterans in Piping
Remaking American Soldiers into Union Plumbers, Fitters, Welders and HVAC TechsCompiled by CE Staff
The piping industry in our great country has a vital mission: distributing water, sewage service, fiber, gas, oil and utilities of every kind to the businesses, families and facilities of our communities. American soldiers are trained to handle similar must-succeed missions. Our military personnel also understand the importance of infrastructure when it comes to building a growing nation.
Utility work and U.S. veterans make a perfect fit — that’s what the United Association of the Plumbers and Pipe Fitters Union (UA) thinks. The UA has created a program called Veterans in Piping (UA VIP), which helps returning veterans transition to civilian life, receive training at no cost to them and find careers with contractors throughout the country in the piping trades. The UA VIP offers many programs, including an 18-week accelerated welding program that prepares graduates for a lifelong career in the construction industry. New welders who have graduated from the UA VIP program have a step up when it comes to job security with good wages and excellent benefits throughout their careers.
Military veterans coming home from the Middle East have to re-establish every aspect of their lives, including new careers. According to U.S. Marine Corps’ Major General (Ret.) Matt Caulfield, the unemployment rate of U.S. Armed Services veterans, ages 22-24, has reached as high as three times the rate of non-veterans in the same age group. The Bureau of Labor statistics reveal that 450,000 welders will be needed nationwide by 2014. The average age for welders is 54, according to the American Welding Society, so new welders will be needed to replace those planning to retire.
The strong work ethics of veterans make them excellent employees. Contractors needing the work ethic of a UA VIP trained graduate should contact the organization at www.ua.org.
Homes for Our Troops
Contractors Can Help Build New Homes and Better Lives for Injured U.S. VeteransCompiled by CE Staff
Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have spanned more than a decade. During that time, the United States sent more than two million Americans overseas to serve at some point. Of those who had served this country, nearly 2,000 veterans have returned home with catastrophic injuries sustained during combat. Adapting to life back home for these vets has a new set of challenges, and a program like Homes for Our Troops helps those heroes overcome the obstacles which are right inside the homestead.
Homes for Our Troops is a national nonprofit, non-partisan organization founded in 2004, committed to helping those who have selflessly served in the U.S. armed forces and also have serious injuries obtained in service since September 11, 2001. Homes for Our Troops assists severely injured veterans and their immediate families by raising donations of money, building materials and professional labor to coordinate the process of building a home that provides maximum freedom of movement and the ability to live more independently. The homes provided by Homes for Our Troops are given at no cost to the veterans they serve.
An eligible Veteran or service member may receive a Veterans Administration Specially Adapted Housing Grant up to a maximum amount of $63,780. Homes for Our Troops’ assistance covers all costs over and above that grant to ensure that the home is provided at no cost to the recipient. All of the projects undertaken are the building of new homes.
For contractors interested in donating their time or services or for injured veterans looking to find out more, visit Homes for Our Troops at www.homesforourtroops.org.
Hire Heroes USA
This Nonprofit Takes Charge of Finding All Types of Work for VeteransBy Pam Kleineke
At Hire Heroes USA, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to creating job opportunities for veterans through personalized employment training and corporate engagement, the mission is clear and simple — get veterans jobs. And to do so, the organization adds a personal touch from each and every one of its 20-plus employees.
“A lot of other organizations out there are trying to place veterans via a software-based system without any personal contact with the veteran,” says Brian Stann, president and CEO of Hire Heroes USA. “We do things differently and sit down with the veteran and talk about what they want to do.”
After registering online or at one of the organization’s workshops, a veteran is placed with an individual from Hire Heroes who is dedicated to assisting them through their job search. This person gets to know the veteran — their skillset and desire on where to live and work — to help him or her find a job that fits them.
“Each veteran that registers with Hire Heroes USA is assigned to an individual on our staff,” says Stann. “That individual will be responsible for taking the veteran through a series of counseling sessions where they help them completely overhaul and rewrite their résumé and start a real job search.”
Before the job search truly begins, Hire Heroes USA works with every veteran in identifying geographical areas they want to live and work in and what they’re actually qualified or certified to do. This helps the organization narrow down jobs the veteran can compete for, finding something they truly want to do.
“We’ll sit down and do the job search with them and put together a strategic plan for finding the right job,” says Stann. “Next, we’ll start working on their résumé so it actually speaks to the requirements of the job. You can’t make just one résumé — it needs to speak to each individual job.”
Hire Heroes USA also works to prep veterans for interviews and helps them properly communicate their skills. This invaluable practice prepares the veterans for one-on-one contact with a potential employer.
“We do mock interviews with the veterans over the phone, so they can get used to answering performance-based questions and learn how to communicate their skillset in a civilian language,” explains Stann. “One of the biggest problems veterans encounter is communicating their skills, because people who haven’t been in the military don’t understand what we’re talking about sometimes. We work with the veterans to draw attention to the skills and qualities civilians are looking for such as strategic planning, leadership, character and decision-making skills, to name a few.”
To further aid in potential job prospects, Hire Heroes USA recruits companies to partner with them and post their employment opportunities on the organization’s job board. This also opens the door for other companies to promote what positions they have available for veterans.
“When we partner with companies, we don’t look at it as going after these places and saying ‘Hey, participate in our charity by helping out a veteran,’” says Stann. “We look at it and say ‘Make an investment in your company’s success by hiring a veteran, because these people are true assets to your company.’”
For more information on Hire Heroes USA, visit www.hireheroesusa.org.
Pam Kleineke is associate editor of Compact Equipment, based in Peninsula, Ohio.
GreenCare for Troops
Contractors Donate Landscape Services to Military Families with Members Who ServedBy Jeff Salem
In a period where landscape contractors are trimming budgets and watching costs to stay ahead, many still take the time to help a segment of the country that sticks its neck out across the globe just to ensure we have lawns to care for and enjoy back home. For more than five years, GreenCare for Troops has been providing families who have a loved one currently deployed in the military with free landscaping and lawn care services. It’s estimated that GreenCare for Troops, underwritten by Cub Cadet and sponsored by the nonprofit organization Project Evergreen, has helped military families ranging in the thousands since its inception in 2006.
“Deployed military personnel and their families both make great sacrifices in order to protect our freedom,” says Cindy Code, Project Evergreen executive director. “GreenCare for Troops was created by our organization as one way to give back to those families. By providing free lawn and landscape services they can enjoy the environmental benefits of a healthy lawn and landscape and focus on their jobs and families.”
Project EverGreen is an organization dedicated to preserving yards, parks, green spaces and ball fields for today and future generations. Its program, GreenCare for Troops, matches lawn and landscape contractors or local volunteers with area residents who have a family member deployed by the military. More than 4,000 volunteers are registered to provide these services and the program is always looking for new volunteers. Include Doug Reedy, branch manager of the Brickman Group’s Holtsville, N.Y., office among the ranks of GreenCare for Troops volunteers. Reedy saw the call for volunteers for GreenCare for Troops online and registered his company, headquartered in Amityville, N.Y., to be part of the program.
“Our company primarily provides landscaping and construction services for commercial and retail office buildings, and this was a chance to do something different,” said Reedy. “More importantly it was an opportunity to help out a family who had a soldier in the armed forces.”
Reedy received the name of a family seeking landscaping services that lived on Long Island, N.Y. Subsequently, a crew from Brickman Group was dispatched to the location to plant and maintain flower beds and provide other needed lawn care services for the summer.
“The woman whose husband is serving overseas was very appreciative and thankful for our services,” Reedy said. “It feels good for us to help others who are helping us.”
ABC World News with Diane Sawyer reported on the work that GreenCare for Troops is providing, and featured Reedy and the crew from Brickman Group. Recently, the GreenCare for Troops program received special recognition from the White House and First Lady Michelle Obama for its dedication to supporting military families. It was one of 20 organizations and communities from around the country honored at a special White House event that was part of the White House’s Joining Forces Initiative. The GreenCare for Troops program fits into the overall mission of Project Evergreen. Formed by green industry service providers, associations, suppliers/distributors, media companies and other organizations, the nonprofit organization is committed to informing the public about the positive effects of well-maintained green spaces, including lawns and landscapes, sports turf, golf courses and parks.
“Our industry partners and volunteers have accomplished many goals by carrying the message of environmental benefits of creating healthy green spaces throughout the country,” says Code. “GreenCare for Troops provides us a marvelous opportunity to provide a great benefit to military families, while also allowing us yet another platform to deliver our message.” For more information on how to volunteer for or receive services from GreenCare for Troops or SnowCare for Troops visit www.projectevergreen.com.
Jeff Salem is a public relations associate at Swanson Russell, based in Lincoln, Neb.