News / Ottawa

Helmets to Hardhats partnership to bring veterans onto job site

The initiative will provide on-the-job training while helping to build a 40-unit affordable-housing complex for homeless veterans.

Coun. Jody Mitic speaks at an announcement of a partnership between Helmets to Hardhats and the Multifaith Housing Initiative to provide veterans with job-site training on the Veteran's House project.

Kieran Delamont / Metro Order this photo

Coun. Jody Mitic speaks at an announcement of a partnership between Helmets to Hardhats and the Multifaith Housing Initiative to provide veterans with job-site training on the Veteran's House project.

A partnership between the Multifaith Housing Initiative and Helmets to Hardhats will allow veterans to receive on-the-job training in the trades while working on the site of Veteran’s House, a 40-unit housing project that will provide housing for homeless vets in Rockcliffe Park.

“This is about people who’ve left the military and maybe lost their way,” said Coun. Jody Mitic, who was on hand to speak about the importance of housing services for veterans. “We’re going to build them from the ground up, from a lost soul to, hopefully, a proud Canadian again.”

On the other hand, the opportunity for veterans to receive job training through Helmets to Hardhats — an organization that helps returning soldiers transition to the workforce by providing apprenticeship — can help soldiers transition once they return home.

“Often soldier loses their identity when they take off the uniform, so you have to give them a new reason to get out of bed,” said Mitic. “I went through it too. I got lucky: I ran and won an election.”

According to a federal government study, there are approximately 2,250 homeless veterans in Canada. Greg Matte, executive director of Helmets to Hardhats, suggests that might be a low estimate; he guessed there were between 400 and 500 homeless veterans in Ottawa alone.

“Many prefer to avoid the turmoil of homeless shelters, preferring to seclude themselves in makeshift camps,” he said.

The partnership, the first of its kind for Helmets to Hardhats, was light on details, as the organization does not yet have a sense of how many veterans will volunteer for the project. Matte said that the program is run on a volunteer basis, and that more numbers will be made available as the start of constructions gets closer.

More on Metronews.ca