Teamster Leaders Expand Military Assistance Program to Thousands of Servicemen and Women
Teamsters General President James P. Hoffa and Teamsters Joint Council 25 Trustee Michael L. Yauger were awarded the U.S. Army’s Honorable Order of Saint Barbara — a medal reserved for those who’ve demonstrated the highest standards of integrity and moral character — in a special ceremony on January 28.
Representatives of the U.S. Army Field Artillery Center, which bestows the award, highlighted the accomplishments of the Teamsters Military Assistance Program (TMAP) in recent years under the direction of Hoffa and Yauger. As National Coordinator of the program, Yauger has expanded its full-time reach to four U.S. Army bases across the country. TMAP provides disability assistance for all military veterans and job placement opportunities for veterans in the construction industry.
Tim Thorne, President of ABF Freight, and Elizabeth Belcaster, Teamsters Consultant to the Building Materials and Construction Trades Division and TMAP coordinator alongside Yauger, were awarded the Order of Saint Barbara as well.
“The Teamsters Military Assistance Program isn’t just about finding good-paying Teamster jobs for our servicemen and women — it’s about fighting for those who’ve fought for us, reducing the burden of unemployment benefits on the U.S. government for veterans, and training military personnel to transition from active duty to civilian employment as smoothly as possible,” Yauger said. “As a veteran myself, I couldn’t be prouder to receive the Order of Saint Barbara. On behalf of Teamsters Joint Council 25, I’d like to thank General President Hoffa, the Teamsters International and our Armed Forces for recognizing the urgency and strength of the union’s Military Assistance Program.”
In 2016 alone, TMAP trained more than 1,000 active military servicemen and women and veterans for employment opportunities and additional job certifications in the construction industry. The program certified hundreds more specifically in eight-hour HAZMAT training. In just the past few years, TMAP has placed more than 300 military professionals and veterans into high-paying jobs as Teamster-represented truck drivers.
The program has been adopted by the U.S. Army to assist servicemen and women stationed at Fort Riley in Kansas; Fort Drum in Jefferson County, New York; Fort Carson in Colorado; and Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas. At Fort Riley alone, TMAP coordinators are training 100 military personnel in various certificates and qualifications every six weeks.
“Teamster local union affiliates across Illinois and northwest Indiana have greatly benefited from the training and job placement assistance that TMAP provides,” said John T. Coli, President of Joint Council 25. “Veterans’ military training gives these workers a unique set of talents that are very applicable to construction jobs. We are so proud to have them as brothers and sisters in our Teamster family.”
Regardless of Teamster membership, military veterans in all 50 states are encouraged to complete a TMAP Veteran Registration Form to begin the process to locate, determine and/or recoup any lost benefits or resources from military service.
Once completed, the form will assist TMAP personnel with filing individual claims with the military from the Teamsters’ Building Materials and Construction Trades Division in Washington, D.C.
“We’ve already helped military veterans receive payments for chronic illnesses that they otherwise would not have gotten through their insurance companies, even while paying a high premium,” said Yauger, who also serves as President of Teamsters Local 786.
The awards ceremony on January 28 was held at the Pentagon Athletic Center’s Taylor Building Annex in Crystal City, Virginia.
Those awarded the Order of Saint Barbara received the medallion attached to a red ribbon. The medallion for the Honorable Order is silver, with one side bearing a cannon and the other displaying a likeness of Saint Barbara, the patron saint of artillerymen, standing by a tower with three windows.
Teamsters Local 786 is an affiliate of Teamsters Joint Council 25, America’s premier labor union for Chicago, Illinois and northwest Indiana.