February 24, 2020
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Constructing a Career: Home Builders Institute Turns Soldiers Into Skilled Trades Workers

I fully expected to serve 20 years in
the United States Army. When I first found out that, due to medical issues, I
wasn’t gonna make it to 20 years, it was a big blow. Our oldest, Aliya, was born
with a heart defect, where she was born with just half of a heart. She ended up getting a heart
transplant when she was 2 months old. The insurance for the army, that’s been kind
of key for us to stay in, so, getting out of the military.. it scared us a little bit.
The immediate thoughts after that for my wife and I are, where are we gonna
live? Where am I gonna work? A dream of mine since I was a kid was to build my
own house. HBI teaches carpentry from the ground up. This program is going to be
part of the reason I’m able to have this skill set and go out and provide for my
family. My name is John Pomelow. I’m 30 years old. I’m a staff sergeant for the United States Army. In the past, when it was time to
leave the military, the branches of service did very little to help prepare
to go back to the civilian world. With HBI,
the military is actually preparing these individuals who faithfully served their
country to be successful in their next career. The residential construction industry
today is facing major worker shortages. A mission of Home Builders Institute is to
train and certify and place a wide demographic of populations of students
in the construction industry. No student in any HBI program pays anything for the
training or, in the case of military, they use none of their GI benefits to train
with us. Construction offers a similar environment to a soldier coming off
active duty because it’s mission-oriented. We love that about the
candidates we get from HBI, so we seek that out. In the middle of the class, we
take them out to an active job site and we show them what we do, and then at the
end of the program, we make ourselves available to the candidates if they have
questions about what it’s like to work in the civilian construction environment.
They’re teaching us basic carpentry, but also teaching us to read blueprints and
draw our own blueprints so we can actually build our own projects. HBI also
has a person that we’re able to send our resume to they’ll help us refine it and
then also help us with job placement. So many veterans as we need them they want
to continue to give back and they don’t want to stop the day that they exit the
military. With The Home Depot Foundation, we’re giving them that opportunity to
follow that path. In March of 2018, The Home Depot Foundation made a commitment
of 50 million dollars to put twenty thousand people into that skilled trades
pipeline over the next 10 years. The Home Depot has been supporting HBI. What is
meant to me personally is they’re investing in me and my family. Being able
to get that help is amazing. This HBI program has already given him
the skills that he needs to apply for jobs, specifically in the construction
and carpentry industry, which is something that he loves doing. I
definitely think that this program is going to be exactly what he needs to
find the job that is fulfilling for him. When soldiers begin their transition
from the military, we’re trying to take them from what they’ve learned as a
soldier and convert them back into a civilian. Jobs like these are perfect
fits. This program capitalizes on work ethic, leadership skills, and it supplies
a need that is needed in America. As a veteran, you expect to do the full career,
but when things change in life and you have to go to the civilian side, things
are different. Transitioning doesn’t have to be scary, it can absolutely be
rewarding if you got somebody that can point you in the right direction. With
these opportunities, you have a better chance of succeeding. John doesn’t
complain at all and he always tries to help the other guys and that’s important
on a job site too. You got to work as a crew, and John has been in the army long enough, I
think he knows that. So he’s always helpful to everybody. Hopes for my future
are being able to provide for my family, anything necessary. Now I got the
skill set that I can rely on and these jobs are everywhere. The joy that I get
and the satisfaction I get is talking to the students. You hear the battles that
they face, and then you watch them as they move through the training and get
placed in a job and seeing how we really have changed their lives. That’s very

Tony wyaad