Veteran in the TTO program?
The G.I. bill may be able to help

Are you a veteran of the U.S.A. military? Or do you know a veteran who is looking for a job in operations? If you’re a veteran and are either interested in working for ITD, are an ITD new hire in the Transportation Tech. series, or have been working as a TTO and have not yet reached Level 3 of the TTO program, then you’re going to want to keep reading!

First off, I would like to give a huge THANK YOU to all of our veterans!!!

ITD has made great strides over the years to improve pay for newly hired employees. While continually improving, ITD still struggles to find qualified candidates for open positions in the TTO program. Although ITD continues to make progress in improving wages, it is sometimes an uphill battle to find candidates willing to join the team at the current starting wage in the TTO program.

We all know that pay is a primary factor when starting a new job -- you still have to pay your bills and eat, right?! And even though the TTO program offers a great horizontal career path that will increase their pay over time through training and steps taken to acquire new skills, none of that can happen if that person doesn't take that initial step…saying yes.

So ITD started looking at other incentives to "sweeten the pot" for potential candidates.

Hiring teams noticed a pattern while going through the hiring process -- a great chunk of the best candidates are military veterans. The trouble is getting these candidates to commit with the pay offered. As an added bonus and huge incentive to veterans hiring on as a TTO, ITD has worked with the Veterans Administration (VA) to provide some supplemental income to help offset the starting wage. The important element to make this program successful is making sure you or the new hire qualifies for the Montgomery GI bill.

The Montgomery G.I. bill is a program for qualifying veterans in which pays them while they attend school or are a part of an approved apprenticeship program…like ITD’s TTO program! If you’re a new hire and haven’t reached your level 3 of the TTO program, click here to find out if you qualify for the Montgomery GI bill.

Although this program has been around for years through ITD’s TTO program, most people don’t know about it. It wasn’t until recently Idaho Falls Maintenance Foreman JR Grotjohn saw this program as a great opportunity to improve and promote. Having been through this program when he first hired on to ITD several years ago, JR knew the importance and need to improve upon the program.

Years ago when ITD first introduced this program with the VA to a few new employees,it was rolled out as a six-months-long program. Meaning qualifying veterans in the TTO program would be able to collect the supplemental pay though the VA for only six months. This pay helps offset the starting wage helping them until their pay increased by making the next steps in their horizontal career path. Lasting only 6 months, this left them with a gap of 1-2 years without the supplemental pay before reaching a "livable" wage.

Knowing this offering could help many new hires, JR began to re-evaluate and improve the program. Grotjohn and fellow veteran/employee Curtis Olsen worked together to push this through to ITD’s Human Resources staff, namely Administrator Brenda Williams and Jessica Garrison. Although the whole team was on board with these improvements, it was still a big risk to have the VA re-evaluate a program they'd already approved -- the department's TTO training program. ITD was willing to take the risk for the betterment of our employees. On Jan. 9, 2020, the risk paid off, after much work and back and forth with the VA.

The VA determined our TTO training program to be adequate and decided to pay qualified veterans for 2 years under our program. This in turn fills the gap by providing extra finances veteran from the day they hire on until they complete thefirst step of the horizontal career path.

“If we advertise this program in our job openings, we will be able to attract qualified veterans who would have otherwise overlooked ITD because of its lower starting wage,” said Grotjohn. “All we have left to do is advertise this program in our job openings and it will help give us more opportunities to hire the best available talent. It also helps to know we are helping fellow veterans as they served our wonderful nation.”

Here's JR talking about the program.

If you are a foreman looking to open and fill TTO positions or are a qualified veteran and have not yet reached Level 3 of the TTO program, please reach out to your local district Human Resources specialist for more information and to start the proper paperwork. Again, to all veterans -- Thank You for your service and hope this program finds you well!

Published 05-08-20