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Helmets to Hardhats forges Marine into career Boilermaker

Every time I talk to someone in the military, I tell them to get enrolled in Helmets to Hardhats.

Tim Jefferies, BM/ST L-549

L-549 BM-ST Tim Jefferies had a 12-year career with the U.S. Marines before starting his own business ventures and eventually finding his way to the Boilermakers union through Helmets to Hardhats.

THINGS WERE GOING pretty well for Tim Jefferies after his 12-year career in the U.S. Marines. Though he didn’t know exactly what he wanted to do career-wise, he had started his own business remodeling bathrooms and kitchens, and business was steady. Until it wasn’t.

“The bottom dropped out around 2007 when the economy began to tank,” says Jefferies, who is business manager/secretary-treasurer for Local 549 (Pittsburg, California).

As Jefferies took stock of his job options, he remembered a Boilermaker who had helped him with some of his remodeling projects from time to time.

“He was a horrible carpenter,” Jefferies jokes, “but he was a hard worker and funny all day long. He told me about his work with the Boilermakers.”

He also told Jefferies about Helmets to Hardhats, a national nonprofit that connects retired and transitioning active-duty military service members with skilled training and career opportunities in the construction industry. The International Brotherhood of Boilermakers is a longtime partner in the program and one of the trade options for participants.

“At the time, I thought, ‘cool, eventually I should get involved with Helmets to Hardhats,’ but now I was looking at what to do to support my family, so I enrolled,” Jefferies recalls. He was quickly processed into Helmets to Hardhats, connected with other military colleagues and connected with Boilermakers Local 549. “At that point, I knew it was a good program. The time from then to now has been very rapid and mind blowing.”

Jefferies began his apprenticeship in September 2007, and by Spring 2008 got called to his first job. By 2013, he was a journeyman and apprenticeship coordinator, and in 2017, he was appointed business manager/secretary-treasurer.

“There’s so much that translates from the military to the Boilermakers,” he says. “Like in the military, our apprenticeship is about making sure the whole team ‘gets it’—it gets everyone caught up to the same level. And it’s the soft skills, like being on time, following instructions, taking initiative and comprehending what’s expected. It’s solidarity and teamwork.

“Every time I talk to someone in the military, I tell them to get enrolled in Helmets to Hardhats.”

For more information about Helmets to Hardhats, visit www.helmetstohardhats.org.