RLC welding students trade in helmets for hard hats

By Carly O'Keefe - bio | email

INA, IL (KFVS) - Twelve new Rend Lake College welding students all served our country before they turned to the trades. Many say they began to feel the pressure of a tough job market after they returned to the states.

"Not very easy coming from the Army," said Retired Staff Sergeant Will Attig of Desoto. "It's a whole different skill set here for all of us young guys who came back to the job market."

Attig was an infantry soldier who served two tours of duty in Iraq and another in Afghanistan. He still wears his combat boots in welding shop as he learns his new skill.

"I was a squad leader in charge of 16 people and we did a lot of patrols, patrolling cities and was a foot soldier kicking in a lot of doors that kind of stuff."

That job experience didn't afford a lot of opportunities here at home, so Attig turned to the Helmets to Hard Hats program.

This class is 16 weeks it's ten hours a day and when they come outta here, they'll be welders," said Union instructor George Walker.

"It's a great program," said RLC President Charley Holstein. "It allows these soldiers who've gone and served their country to come back and have an opportunity to get some accelerated training to get out in the work force.

The accelerated program will really help out retired marine Jordan Montgomery, who wants to leave the coal mines behind for a career as a pipefitter.

"They offered the long drawn out classes here I really didn't have time; I have a three-month-old at home and a fiancée and an eight-year-old son, so kinda need to get on the ball," said Montgomery. "I figured I could do it for 16 weeks, it'll pay off in the long run."

For more information on the Helmets to Hardhats program click here.

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