Ingalls Shipbuilding helps veterans build new careers

PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - Mississippi's largest private employer is aiming to shrink the unemployment rate for veterans. Ingalls Shipbuilding has started a Fast Track Foreman Program that provides on the job training for military men and women to build ships to defend our country.

Veteran Chad Shaw spent two decades in the United States Air Force working as a civil engineer. Afterwards, he found himself searching for a new career.

"It is a scary time when any veteran comes upon retirement because you are used to getting that paycheck every two weeks," Shaw said.

Now Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula has provided Shaw and several other veterans an opportunity to serve the country in a different way.

"The job we are in now, we are helping the military to do their job, so they can go wherever they want with the ships we are building," Veteran Lito Manganti said.

Ingalls' Fast Track Foreman Program is intended to place selected military veterans into leadership positions after completing some extensive training. Those picked preferably have some construction background.

"As a Navy Seabee, I was a steel worker for 20 years. I figured coming out I could use my talents for shipbuilding," Matthew Tyson said.

Around 1,500 veterans work at Ingalls; That's about 11 percent of the company's total workforce. With this new program, Ingalls officials hope that number will increase.

"I think the homeless veterans are roughly about eight to ten percent. Sometimes people don't understand that veterans do have something to bring to the workforce. They have a lot of passion, a lot of skill, and technology. And they can definitely bring something with the leadership potential as well," Ingalls Official Mike Catchings said.

Although the work is challenging, veterans believe it's worth it. They're excited and eager to build a future at the shipyard.

"When you look at the big picture, you are putting out a quality product that is going to carry our future [military] men and women."

Learn more about a career at Ingalls:

Copyright 2014 WLOX. All rights reserved.