Tuesday, May 28, 2013
Veterans Find Jobs, Disability Benefits With Teamsters
Teamsters Military Assistance Program Aiding Thousands Nationwide

Rich Garcia is a rarity in the often sporadic construction industry these days. He’s had steady work for 26 years as a member of Teamsters Local 142. Recently, his longevity has been thanks to an innovative Teamster initiative called the Teamsters Military Assistance Program (TMAP).

An offshoot of the national Helmets to Hardhats program, TMAP provides disability assistance for all military veterans and job placement opportunities for veterans in the construction industry. The program’s disability initiative alone can help workers track down services, benefits and funds owed to them as veterans—in some case, for as much as tens of thousands of dollars in back benefits.

“I’ve had friends in the military who have had trouble finding work once they returned from their tours of duty and my first recommendation to them is that they contact TMAP,” Garcia said. “When I completed my training, I was having a lot of difficulty finding work, even though I had truck driving experience. The Teamsters who run TMAP were able to help me out almost immediately.”

Garcia was in the military from 1986-1992 as a combat engineer out of Fort Dix, N.J. He performed maintenance on Hummer vehicles and other heavy equipment. In his own words, he was basically responsible for anything with wheels.

“My military training gave me the groundwork to be responsible and take charge,” he said.

Even though Garcia had truck-driving experience in the military, TMAP recommended he take program-sponsored classes for the hauling and handling of hazardous materials. He also took courses to be certified to operate a boom truck. These choices turned out to be assets to help him gain steady employment.

Recently, Garcia has been working full-time on a construction job at the BP oil refinery in Whiting, Ind. He operates a tri-axle dump truck and a school bus used to shuttle employees to and from the refinery. Originally constructed in 1889, the refinery has been undergoing a modernization process since 2008. New infrastructure elements—an enlarged barge unloading facility and a 47-acre contractor trailer complex—have been part of the improvements.

Values Learned on the Job
Garcia credits his prior training in the military and his membership in the Teamsters with his ability to find full-time work, which allows him to provide for his family as a single parent.

“I take pride in my work and try to be a good employee,” Garcia said.

His diligence and training has paid off. Garcia said the courses he took through TMAP have already paid for themselves. “Ten times over,” he said.

The TMAP program has already assisted thousands of other Teamster members, particularly in Illinois, Indiana and other Midwest states.

“Our Chicago-area local unions have greatly benefited from the training and job placement assistance that TMAP and Helmets to Hardhats provides,” said John T. Coli, President of Teamsters Joint Council 25 and International Vice President for the Central Region. “Veterans’ military training gives them a unique set of talents that are very applicable to construction jobs. We are so proud to have them as brothers and sisters in the Teamster family.”

CLICK HERE to learn more about disability benefit assistance available to all military veterans through the Teamsters Military Assistance Program.

Teamsters Local 142 is an affiliate of Teamsters Joint Council 25, America's premier labor union for Chicago, Illinois and northwest Indiana.

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