Marty Tatum’s 26 years of military service includes experience with the Seabees – the U.S. naval construction force – as well as time in Iraq, Kuwait and at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba.
Now a reservist with the Air National Guard in Rhode Island, the 50-year-old Warren resident works for Gem Plumbing and Heating in Lincoln. He’s also the first person to benefit from a key part of a package of new state laws, called Pave the Rhode Back Home, intended to ease the transition to civilian life for military veterans.
One law, called Service Member Licensure, directs examining and licensing boards for professional services to accept education, training or service toward certification for military members and their spouses. Bernard Treml, supervisor of apprenticeship for the R.I. Department of Labor and Training’s Division of Workforce Regulation and Safety, says Tatum is the first to benefit.
“Marty was already registered as an apprentice in pipefitting with Gem Plumbing, so we’ve already been working with him,” said Treml.
“In the past we’ve reviewed military experience on a case-by-case basis. We’ve given credit for related instruction or on-the-job training that translates into credit for apprenticeship or licensing programs,” Treml said.
The new law is designed to standardize and speed-up the process.
“Now we’re working on giving Marty advanced credit for his apprenticeship and he can sit for his pipefitters test in October,” Treml said. The test is for the pipefitters 2 journeyman’s license.
“He can outline his career path for the next couple of years. The more credentialed you are, the more licenses you have, the more opportunity there is,” Treml said.
“Licenses are required for different parts of the work in plumbing, heating and cooling. After this, Marty may decide to register for a refrigeration apprenticeship. With more licenses, he could do a job from A-to-Z,” Treml said.
Tatum has been pursuing his licenses for years. He completed 728 hours of military school in plumbing at an Air Force Base in Texas in 2003. He signed on as an apprentice plumber with Gem Plumbing and Heating in 2005.
“I was trying to get the state to give me credit toward my journeyman’s license for plumbing,” Tatum said. “The people at DLT were really patient and helpful, but their hands were tied by the law. I went before boards in Rhode Island and I still had to go to a trade school in Connecticut.