"We entertained it at one of our prior companies as early as 2006," said Ryan Hawkings, CanElson VP of Operating. "We were looking at Canadian veterans because we were operating up in Canada at the time."
Hawkings said it only made sense to do the same when they started operating in the U.S. "It was a very tight labor market. We were looking for people who had a little bit extra to offer us," he said.
But they found a lot more in veteran Jeremy Roberts, who now helps CanElson find qualified veterans to work on their rigs.
"When you look to find a workforce that's already been trained. They're not afraid of work," said Roberts. "You eliminate the initial process of...is this guy going to be strong enough? Is he going to be able to mentally handle it? I would say 70 percent of the time you get a veteran that's out here, he's already instilled in that."
That's exactly what they found in U.S. Army veteran Donald Mead, who recently returned from Afghanistan. He's thankful for his job now, but he says coming home wasn't easy.
"(It was) confusing actually. (I was) not used to it. A year over there is a long time. When you get back here everything has changed. You know what I mean. Nothing is the same," stressed Mead.
Returning home was equally as hard for Geoffrey Spencer, who served in the U.S. Marine Corps.
"It was hard to return home because I was so used to doing what I did for eight years and six months over there in war. Coming home was definitely a change," echoed Spencer.
For many, working long hours in harsh conditions makes working on a rig hard, sometimes dangerous. But for these veterans, it's just another day at work.
"You go to Iraq and Afghanistan. Your mind is totally different. Your up 18 to 20 hours. So coming here and working 12 hours is..it's easy. It's a cake walk, and I'm getting paid good to do it so why not," said Spencer.
But they say it's about a lot more than the money. "Finding a job is one thing. That's great," said Spencer. "But having veterans that are here on the rig that they can talk to and other veterans they can talk to help them transition to the civilian life."
Mead agreed that the job has really helped him transition following his recent return from overseas, giving both of these decorated veterans a lot to be thankful for which was CanElson's goal all along.
"If we can give back to the vets that have served, we're all for that," said Roberts.
If you are a veteran and are looking for employment, you can apply online at http://www.workingonrigs.ca/ .
Coming up next week, we'll wrap up this special series by meeting one more veteran that has a lot to be thankful for this holiday season.
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