A new training center that is part of the Military Veterans Program run by our parent organization, the United Brotherhood of Carpenters, began training its first class of applicants earlier this month. The Clarksville, Tennessee, center is serving soldiers transitioning out of the U.S. Army at nearby Fort Campbell. The MVP program also operates at Fort Hood near Killeen, Texas.
Program participants take part in a free, eight-week training program, which gives military vets the basic skill set of a first-year apprentice and includes hands-on projects for real-world experience. Once civilians, these veterans join a Southern States Millwright or carpenter local union and begin working.
“It is an immense privilege to work with vets, the people who have served our country,” said Esther Freeman, who was hired to serve as an MVP instructor in Clarksville. “They have the discipline and diligence to see things through. I have a lot of respect for them.”
Millwrights and carpenters complete common-core training such as OSHA 30 and first aid during the first half of the program. They then break into millwright or carpenter training groups for the remaining four weeks. The first class in Tennessee is comprised of nine veterans, six of whom will pursue millwright training.
Freeman, a member of Millwright Local 1554, teaches both millwrights and carpenters during the first four weeks of the program and leads millwrights during the latter four weeks. She became a journey-level millwright in 2020 and had experience as a welding instructor before she began the millwright apprenticeship.
“I have greatly enjoyed teaching in the past when I was a welding teacher,” Freeman said. “I hope to surpass the veterans’ training needs starting out in the field, and I hope to get welding classes added in.”
The nine applicants began the program April 12 and are scheduled to complete it June 9. “I hope they have successful careers, and I want them to leave with confidence that they are equipped for whatever they choose in the fields of carpentry or millwrighting,” Freeman said.