Colonel David Sutherland, Chairman of Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Services and Chris Gardner, author of “The Pursuit of Happyness,” joined the International Union of Elevator Constructors (IUEC) for a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

IUEC General President Frank Christensen along with Brothers Abel Arabitg, Steve Simpson, and more than 20 friends and family members attended the event. The solemn ceremony connected leaders from the IUEC with representatives from Dixon Center whose actions are leading veterans to a better and more secure future.

President Christensen has been a strong advocate for veterans and a supporter of Dixon Center’s work for many years. Because he has many family members who served, he understands the importance of taking care of veterans who fought for the rights and liberties we enjoy today. In an interview, he mentioned, “My father served in WWII, in the Navy…I had six uncles that served in WWII; my brother also served, and I got the chance to see that veterans aren’t taken care of in this country as they should [be]. I believe so much in our veterans today, and we owe them everything – our freedoms and everything we have today.”

Helmets to Hardhats Partnership

Through a partnership with Helmets to Hardhats, a national non-profit program, the IUEC offers veterans priority status during the apprenticeship’s recruitment process.

Helmets to Hardhats connects military service members with superior training and education programs in the building trades. It provides veterans with solid, family-wage career opportunities through federally-registered apprenticeship programs, such as the IUEC’s National Elevator Industry Educational Program (NEIEP).

Frank Christensen also shares a strong friendship with Dixon Center Chairman Col. David Sutherland.  Col. Sutherland says, “We embrace the opportunities that the IUEC is creating for veterans in the building trades. Now, we showcase the way you do it to other organizations. Don’t create a new program; integrate them in – recruit and train them – the way [the IUEC] does it with the Apprenticeship Programs, and retain them. They feel appreciated, they feel connected, and they know they’ve got opportunities to advance; and not just them, but also their families.”

A Day Well Spent

The day was spent walking through the grounds, visiting gravesites, and sharing stories of those who served. All who participated hope events like this will not only pay homage to the memories of veterans and their families, but also aid in linking past experiences to the present day feelings and behavior, ultimately shaping the development of leaders who learn from the lives and experiences of others.