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Damon Bennett on a mission to help combat veterans get employment in the construction trades

Redeploying Canadian veterans into the construction: “Let’s start using these guys!”


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January 22, 2016 by John Bleasby

“We’ll lose 40% of our construction workers over the next 10-15 years. And here’s a potential workforce of combat veterans who need a career.” That’s a message TV (and real life) contractor Damon Bennett wants everyone to hear.

Damon is familiar to Canadians due to his 10 -ear television stint as Mike Holmes’ right-hand man, the guy who brought in the crews to do the heavy lifting. Now that he’s left the show, he runs Bennett Building Company, has affiliations with other companies in the home building industry, and acts as a product ambassador for a range of building suppliers.

Two things you need to know about Damon Bennett
Number one, Damon is first and foremost a construction industry lifer. “I’m a real contractor and always will be. I left home when I was about 15 and went into the construction industry full-time. My whole family is into the trades. They gave me the passion about doing a good job, working hard, making sure there are no loose ends before you leave the job site.”

Tough enough? Canadian veterans can bring, discipline, teamwork, and dedication to their post-military tasks

Tough enough? Canadian veterans can bring, discipline, teamwork, and dedication to their post-military tasks

Second, Damon is passionate about Canada’s military history and the current plight of this country’s veterans. 

“I come by it naturally.  I had two great uncles in the Second World War and remember my grandmother sitting me, going through the pictures of her brothers in their uniforms, and how proud she was. I think that’s where my passion really started.” It continued as he grew up in a small town near Ottawa. “You’re surrounded by veterans, surrounded by monuments. You develop massive respect.”

Thousands of highly trained professionals have been cut adrift
It’s not surprising then that Damon was fired up when he read about Canadian veterans struggling to re-build their lives after leaving the forces. “It’s nauseating. There are over 2,000 homeless veterans in their late 20’s and early 30’s sleeping on the streets right now. It’s a whole generation of people.” Even more Canadian veterans are in need of a career re-boot, left adrift by a system that has largely ignored their plight after leaving the forces. Yet they seem a perfect fit for work in the construction industry.

Returning vets are just what the industry needs

"Putting veterans in a construction crew is like the Front Line, doing things other people can’t. And they really, really enjoy it." Damon Bennett

“Putting veterans in a construction crew is like the Front Line, doing things other people can’t. And they really, really enjoy it.” Damon Bennett

Damon hired veterans to join his crew during his Holmes years, and uses them today. He has nothing but the highest praise. “They’ve been awesome. When they’re back in a group attitude, they just blossom. They’re hard working, they’re intent on learning, they’re diligent and polite; they’re everything you could ask for, and that’s because they were soldiers.”

Take Glen Coyle. Glen is now 33. He joined the military at age 19, trained in the highly disciplined area of reconnaissance, had a 6-month tour of Afghanistan, and left 7 years later at age 26. “What happens is when you get out of the forces, you’re in limbo. It’s tough to find motivation.”

Glen was lucky to meet Damon and get hired as part of the crew. “It was like winning the lottery. It started a completely new path for me in construction.” Others haven’t been so fortunate. “You go overseas for your country and you’re on top of the world” Glen explains. “When you get out, you’re at the bottom of the totem pole. For a lot of guys to be at the bottom after 10, 15 even 20 years is really difficult.”

Hiring veterans makes everyone a winner
It seems like a perfect fit. That’s why Damon takes every opportunity to speak about the benefits of bringing Canadian military veterans into construction. He advised on Kijiji’s 2015 initiative to post ‘vet-friendly’ jobs on their career web site. He’s worked with programmes such as Helmets to Hardhats, Canada Company, and Wounded Warriors Canada.  It all comes from the heart. “I ask nothing from them; what I want to do is give to them. I’d like to increase the respect given to these people for what they’ve done for our country first of all, and second of all I’d like to put out a hand to them.”

Glen gives Damon a full salute. “I’ve never seen anyone put so much passion into this as Damon. He not only ‘talks the talk’ but he ‘walks the walk’. I’m a perfect example of that.”

Join Damon and learn more about how your business can benefit from the redeployment of Canadian military veterans.

Helmets to Hardhats
Canada Company
Wounded Warriors Canada
Kijiji Vet-Friendly Job Postings

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@john_bleasby


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15 Comments » for Damon Bennett on a mission to help combat veterans get employment in the construction trades
  1. Walter Argent, CD says:

    Great idea except they move to a possible union environment. Remember they come from an Anarchy not a democracy or union environment.

  2. Roger Smallman says:

    Well, as a veteran myself, can say that us ex-military guys do work well in a group because that’s what we were trained to do. Got a job to do, work together and get it done. No problem, no fuss, no drama. The fact that you’re working with other vets means that there’s someone who has some of the same background as you, even if they were born on the other side of the country (or even in another country). So you get a connection quicker with your co-workers, something beyond just the construction side of things. And as some of us did join the military at an early age, we can put our X number of years in and still be young enough to do the labour. Good idea, BZ to you, Damon

  3. Judy Jolliffe says:

    I am an ex-military member who is keen to learn and looking for work! *But my trade was admin, and my college trg was business/admin. I have several years’ experience as well, working as a security guard! 🙂
    tryjolliffe@yahoo.ca
    (New to the London ON area) ~ judy Cheers to Damon Bennett!!

    • Rita says:

      You can access help through the BPSO. I personally used Forces @ Work when I was in the process of releasing. Forces @ Work was awesome help. They will stay with you as long as necessary. When you find a job, they will follow-up, and if for some reason you are not happy, they will help you to start from square 1.
      I was a clerk in the military and now I run the HR department of a private company.
      They helped me to make the transition to civi life a little less scary.
      Good luck to you!

  4. ryan grondin says:

    I’m a formula armed forces member and I’m now in my last year of school for civil engineering technologist I’m just nervous that when it’s time to work employer will see my age and time in the military as a hold up compared to some of these younger people

  5. Fernando Saldanha says:

    Great article. Damon has a great business focus by hiring and supporting vets. His work and business approach is to be commended! Shame on Canada and its government for leaving so many veterans with no supports, no opportunities, homeless and on the streets. Damon and Glen are great examples of those who have served our country with helmets and continue to serve our country with hard hats! My heartfelt congratulations and thanks to Damon and Glen.
    Fernando Saldanha

  6. Retr'd Sgt. Gordon Higgins 18 years says:

    I have been in the reno and construction industry since my retirement. Very passionate about what I do. However here on nl it’s hard to get a head because of the good oh boys clubs.
    This place could do with a establishment and cause like Damon’s. My hat is off to you for all your efforts for and with my former brothers in arms
    Thank very much from this veteran

  7. Deanna Warden says:

    Thanks for what you are doing Damon…I am the wife of a miltary man. And have seen this loss of motivation first hand.

  8. Fred says:

    I’m trying to sign up on the website but it crashes right after I put in my MOSID. Something’s up with your page Damon! :'(

  9. Tracey Munroe says:

    My boyfriend has retired and is going back to school for retraining….but unfortunately for most, their homeless….Its cruel and unfair….I’m so excited that Damon to be a huge part of this for our Veterans!!!!!

    Proud to be a Canadian!!!!

  10. Matt says:

    Got hired as an apprentice to do construction electrician trade… and I’ve been waiting almost a year to start and they told me it could be another 6 months to a year before i’m able to start. The economy in Ontario is terrible and if you don’t know anyone then pretty much forget about it….