Troops transitioning to civilian life find drama-free training in the theater

Military members are training for civilian life by fixing up the Hawaii Theatre

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Hawaii Theatre, built in 1922, is carrying a $19 million deficit in deferred maintenance.

That's where a partnership with a non-profit called the Concrete Preservation Institute comes in handy.

"They've replaced a ceiling that was falling in backstage. They're also doing what's called concrete spalling repair on our emergency exit stairs," Hawaii Theatre Center president Gregory Dunn said.

CPI provides free labor from military personnel enrolled in its construction training program for troops transitioning to civilian life.

"Basically, everything we do and focus on is focusing on not only building their resumes but also building their experience and their technical levels," said Scott Burghardt, CPI Foundation's operations director.

Participants complete a 12-week training course that earns them construction certifications and job placement when they exit the service.

Carlos Marin’s retiring after 20 years in the U.S. Navy. He hopes to be a construction manager in his next career.

"We have a lot to bring to the civilian side, but at the same time a lot of our jobs don't just translate over to the civilian side," he said.

CPI started its training program ten years ago on Alcatraz Island. It partners with the National Park Service and local organizations.

"We don't take any GI benefits, no post 9-11 benefits, so it's completely free to the service member," Burghardt said.

CPI has done four jobs for the Hawaii Theatre. Dunn estimates the theatre has saved about a quarter of a million dollars in construction costs.

"We could not afford to undertake the type of work that we're doing without their help," Dunn said.

The Hawaii Theatre pays for materials while the trainees get hands-on work experience they can apply to jobs in the civilian world.

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