Damon Bennett brings veteran work program word to Saskatoon

By Lasia Kretzel
March 22, 2014 - 4:16pm

When he's not getting ready to host his first solo renovation show, contractor and HGTV network star Damon Bennett is working to create job opportunities for Canada's working veterans.

The construction celebrity, famous for being the right hand man of Mike Holmes, was in Saskatoon Saturday to discuss his new project.

"Our last troops have come back (from Afghanistan) and there's a huge work force that needs to get to work,” Bennett said. “Part of dealing with PTSD is getting back to work."

The project, which is just starting up in Ontario, involves working with local government agencies to get veterans the training and employment they need. One example is a website where trades employers can search a list of unemployed veterans.

Bennett also runs a construction company that specifically hires veterans. He said veterans ranging from ages 20 to 60 are looking for work.

“Senior officers are going to find work, they’re educated. But the grunts on the ground, they’re probably educated too, but they’re going to have a harder time finding work. There’s no specific work base they can put on a resume.”

Bennett said a construction site is a great environment for veterans.

“They’re coming from a group dynamic where everyone has each other’s backs. They all of the sudden come into a construction industry where you’re also in a group dynamic where you have to have each other’s backs,” he said.

“These men and women aren’t afraid of hard work. They’re sleeping in the ground half the time, they’re working their butts off in the field.”

Once his show gets up and running, Bennett said he would like to have a rotating group of veterans come on and help with his projects.

Advanced Education minister Rob Norris said with a government reported 15,800 available jobs, the province will consider every option to plug the labour shortage and get veterans back to work.

“We’re certainly willing to roll up our sleeves and look at just about any option we can to help our returning veterans,” Norris said, adding the province does provide at $5,000 scholarship of honour to Saskatchewan veterans for post secondary education.

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