The Current

Ex-soldiers build on veteran skills to create successful construction company

Meet Matt Austin, a man who turned to construction to build a future for himself and other returning soldiers who couldn't find work.
Matt Austin started Legion Construction after he left the military because he says he couldn't find employment and wanted to help other military vets adapt their skills from warrior to construction worker. (Ines Colabrese/CBC)

For soldiers returning to civilian life, the transition can be a challenging one.

It's something Matt Austin, a retired Ontario soldier knows all to well. He served in Afghanistan with the Canadian Forces in 2006 and again in 2008.

"I honestly didn't think I'd make it home."

Now Austin is the president of Legion Construction to keep himself and some of his former colleagues engaged and employed after they return from duty — adapting their skills as warriors to construction.

"Companies just don't hire soldiers. They just don't know what to make of them. They don't know how to read military resumes and so forth. So I said, 'I'm going to be the company that does that,'" Austin says.

"I want to be the person that helps because I know what it feels like to be rejected."

The emotional toll soldiers carry isn't lost on Austin. 

"The people that I fought beside, they've seen some stuff they can't forget. We've all shared in some incidents that we cannot forget and we'll never forget. No matter how hard you're always going to see it and that's okay,"  he says.

"That's why we have who we have in our company is because we can talk about these things if we are feeling not 100 per cent."

Listen to the full story.

This segment was produced by The Current's Ines Colabrese.

The Current's season-long series Adaptation looks at the surprising, innovative, and sometimes ill-advised ways we accommodate a rapidly shifting world. 

As part of our series, we are searching for your personal stories of adaptation, big and small. Contact us.

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