By Benjamin Horvath
Far too often, the American public hears news reports on the struggles of our nation’s veterans. Veterans suffer from chronically high unemployment numbers, high rates of post-traumatic stress disorder, and a disproportionately high number of suicides; just a few of the challenges that too many veterans have encountered during the transition from military to civilian life.
But such challenges and difficulties provide the opportunity for goodness to show. Case in point, the wireless industry’s veteran training program Warriors 4 Wireless.
Founded in 2012, the program aims to shrink the rate of jobless veterans. As the wireless industry booms—with an estimated 8,000 to 10,000 currently unfilled tower technician jobs—the American military is currently undergoing one of its largest reductions of force in recent history. Warriors 4 Wireless’ mission is to train veterans for these open positions by working closely with tower companies nationwide.
The program offers a 120-hour Tower Installation course that teaches fundamental skills for tower technicians, including climber training, hazard communications, RF training, basic rigging and gin pole principles, as well as Electromagnetic Energy training. Upon finishing the program, trainees leave with an understanding of tower technician basics, as well as OSHA-10 hour training and First Aid, CPR, and AED certifications.
Joshua Thebeau, a four-year Cavalry Scout in the U.S. Army who was discharged in October, 2015, underwent the training course at the program’s Carrollton, TX facility in late 2015. He told Inside Towers that Warriors 4 Wireless took a huge burden off of his shoulders, as he made the oftentimes-difficult transition from military to civilian life.
“They really helped me out a lot, knowing I had someone besides myself looking out for me and trying to find the best situation for me was huge,” Thebeau said.
Indeed, trainees are paired with career counselors during training, who specialize in distributing participants’ resumes to companies throughout the tower industry. Since its founding, Warriors 4 Wireless has built an impressive partners list, which includes industry giants as MasTec, American Towers, T-Mobile and Crown Castle. Thebeau estimated that his counselor distributed his resume to some 75 tower companies across the nation.
In addition to the ability to work closely with a career counselor, Thebeau said the pace of the program factored heavily in his decision to choose Warriors 4 Wireless.
“I was looking at different [veterans training] programs and for a lot them you were in it for four or five years before you were out on you own,” he said. “I was okay with that, but then “I ran across W4W and I saw that it was better pay right out of the gate and it was just a lot quicker to move up in the industry.”
Upon completing the program, Thebeau was hired by the Indiana-based wireless construction company, Stout Tower Services, where he has been employed as a tower technician since the beginning of 2016. As a technician, Thebeau said the training has given him preparedness for life as a tower hand, but he has also found skills he developed in the Army to be transferrable to the tower industry.
“Something I learned in the military that helps me now is being able to work in all kinds of weather conditions and not letting that affect me,” Thebeau said.
“[Also], being able to work with all kinds of people. In the military, you may be stuck working someone and you don’t get to pick who they are, they pick for you. So you have to learn to be a team player regardless of who that person is.”
On reasons why tower companies should look into hiring veterans, Thebeau cited veterans’ attention to detail and work ethic as traits that make them reliable tower technicians.
“We want to get out there, get the job done, and keep going to the next one.”
For more information on the Warriors 4 Wireless program, and on information on how your company can partner with W4W, please visit the program’s website: http://warriors4wireless.org/about/