ST. MARYS, Ga. — There's a lot more to painting submarines, bridges and other structures on military bases than just grabbing a brush or a spray nozzle.
In fact, it's a 3-year apprenticeship to earn a journeyman's certification to work as a painter for a military contractor.
Eight military veterans who graduated from a training program Friday conducted in St. Marys will take that first step toward being a journeyman.
They will start working for a military contractor at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay on Tuesday.
The graduates completed an intensive two-week training program sponsored by the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, District Council 77, said Ryan Enos, director of marketing for the organization. He said 70 veterans applied for the program.
"It was grueling to pick those candidates," Enos said.
The union is conducting similar training programs for veterans across the nation to help military contractors find employees to replace an aging civilian workforce.
"We need to bring in new blood," he said.
Military contractors like to hire veterans because they have learned many of the positive attributes such as understanding the importance of team work and the discipline to perform quality work.
The graduates will work at Kings Bay for a year before they go to other military bases in the nation and Canada, Enos said.
"They'll go wherever contractors work," he said. "We're trying to lead the industry and get these guys certified. There's a lot they can branch into."
The union is also trying to work with other military contractors at Kings Bay to fill employment needs, Enos said.