As America’s troops return home, they are facing unprecedented unemployment rates. They must somehow match their military skills and training with careerSoldier opportunities stateside. 3M has recognized the need for qualified technicians in the collision repair industry and is creating an opportunity for returning veterans to find rewarding careers with the right education and support.

3M, one of 15 corporations honored by the U.S. government as a Freedom Award Recipient, and its Automotive Aftermarket Division recently announced the new 3M Hire Our Heroes campaign to help provide training and support for the nation’s returning veterans and their families. 3M is partnering with the Collision Repair Education Foundation, the National Auto Body Council, and Operation Comfort to help support rehabilitation and training and drive employment in the collision repair industry for America’s returning veterans. The goal of the 3M Hire Our Heroes campaign, which kicks off in January 2013, is to donate up to $250,000 to benefit returning veterans and their families. The donation is based on the sales of select popular 3M products to qualified distributors.

“The men and women who have served our country bring excellent training and skills, a commitment for doing the job correctly, a passion for intellectual achievement, and a strong work ethic—all tremendous attributes for employment in today’s collision repair industry,” said Dale Ross, U.S. Marketing Operations manager for the 3M Automotive Aftermarket Division.

“Our industry needs qualified repair professionals with the necessary skills to keep pace with the evolving repair standards,” he said. “We are committed to helping repair facility owners and managers around the country get the capable, qualified repair professionals they need to perform at the high standards expected in today’s collision industry while honoring the tremendous service of our military men and women.”

This program will provide funding for education of the nation’s returning veterans and their families through the Collision Repair Education Foundation. The grants and scholarships will help cover tuition, books and classroom materials, as well as tools and equipment for returning veterans and their families. Veterans and their immediate families will be able to apply for 3M Hire Our Heroes grants and scholarships beginning January 1 through

“The Collision Repair Education Foundation does an excellent job of identifying great candidates for scholarship assistance and promoting high-quality education for collision repair professionals at schools throughout the country,” Ross said. “We’re proud to work with them to support training for these deserving veterans and their family members.”

The 3M Hire Our Heroes program also plans to help fund rehabilitation for the wounded veterans through Operation Comfort and the National Auto Body Council as part of a unique automotive skill-based rehabilitation program. Called Automotivation, it provides opportunities for wounded soldiers to channel their automotive skills—or learn new ones—to restore vehicles through the NABC Recycled Rides program for other military veterans. The campaign will be raising funds for a new facility in San Antonio, Texas.

“These men and women will receive instruction in collision repair, estimating, vehicle refinishing and other related topics toward the goal of preparing them for reentry into the civilian workforce, namely our industry,” said Chuck Sulkala, executive director of the NABC.

“Our wounded heroes have tremendous needs for rehabilitation, not just in our military hospitals but in skills-based rehabilitation that provides intellectual, hands-on opportunities and rewarding projects as they recover from their injuries,” Ross said.

The ultimate goal of the 3M Hire Our Heroes campaign is reportedly to support the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in raising awareness for hiring America’s heroes and help drive employment in the collision repair industry for these deserving veterans and their families. In addition, 3M is a national board member of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Hiring Heroes program.

During the 2013 campaign, 3M will engage its industry alliances, channel partners and collision repair shops in building awareness for this program. It also plans to use its relationships with NASCAR; Roush Fenway Racing; team owner Jack Roush; Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 16 3M Ford Fusion; Chip Foose, a leading automotive designer; and legendary NASCAR crew chief and ESPN analyst Ray Evernham to help share the message.

For more information, contact Ted Guck, 3M Automotive Aftermarket, at or visit