We want to thank Lee Kirgen, VP Construction for Operation Finally Home, for the kind words shared with us in a recent letter. You can download the letter by clicking here, however, here are the contents of this moving letter:

“As VP Construction for Operation Finally Home, a nationwide non-profit organization that builds mortgage-free homes for wounded veterans and widows of the fallen, I am encouraged by the efforts of Salute the Armed Forces as part of your Veteran University Program to assist veterans with employment opportunities. Operation Finally Home has expanded into 28 states, and universally I find that there are issues that your program addresses which are vital to our homebuilding industry and to our veterans.

There are two issues which have created a shortage of skilled workers in the residential construction industry:

  • With the residential building industry recession, vast numbers of tradesmen have left the industry, and since the recovery began, those tradesmen have not returned. Many of them found new professionals and have no plans to return.
  • High Schools and colleges around the country have dropped vocational education courses due to the emphasis on all students to earn a college degree and due to the need to cut costs. This has unfortunately led to a shortage of young men and women with the basic skills necessary to enter the building industry workforce.

Another even more disturbing issues exists with veterans. The transition to civilian life is difficult in a number of ways, but for this discussion I’ll just refer to the issues surround the changing of careers. Whether wounded, ill, injured, or not, all veterans deal with the psychological effects of starting a new career. Now that they are done with the military, many do not know where to turn or what to do. Some may feel like failures because the military no longer wants them, some just struggle with thoughts that they have nothing to offer the civilian work world or that they simply no longer fit in. Certainly they are wrong to feel that way, but still many do struggle with these thoughts.

These young men and women are trained leaders and should be considered the best of the best in the civilian workforce. Programs such as Salute the Armed Forces Veteran University program help them to see their true value to society.
The residential building industry needs these dependable leaders. Salute the Armed Forces can make a tremendous difference in the lives of our real heroes who are leaving the military and need to realize they are needed in the civilian workforce.

The vocational training offered through Salute the Armed Forces can make a difference for our industry and many others, but more importantly can make a difference in the lives of our veterans. The suicide rate is unacceptable, and program such as this can play a big role in reducing the number of veteran suicides, giving their lives new meaning, making them feel accepted, and making them feel needed and appreciated.

We desperately need to offer this help for our veterans and our industry needs these vocationally trained veterans. There is a shortage of jobsite project managers, carpenters, plumbers, electricians, painters, brick masons, and roofers, to name a few. Who better to get the job done or to lead crews than those who have been trained in our military and now have been trained by Salute the Armed Forces through their Veteran University Program.

I salute the vision of the leadership of Salute the Armed Forces for recognizing the problems faced by our veterans, and realizing the lack of vocational training and job placement needed to provide life-changing opportunities for our veterans, while also resolving a pressing issue for our residential building industry.

Thank you for taking action to provide opportunities for our veterans. And thank you for providing a means to relieve the shortage of vocationally trained workers for our industry as well as many others.”


Lee Kirgan
VP Construction
Operation Finally Home

We are proud to be of service, and we again thank Lee Kirgan for this letter and the service of Operation Finally Home!

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