Mike Rowe became a household name on his own TV show “Dirty Jobs,” which highlighted difficult, disgusting, messy or strange jobs performed by people across the country.
But Rowe said were it not veterans, his show likely wouldn’t have had the overwhelming success it did.
“We did 300 dirty jobs," Rowe said Aug. 23 at The American Legion National Convention in Reno, Nev. “If I made a list of the people who we profiled who served (in the military), more than half would be on that (list).”
Rowe was presented with The American Legion National Commander’s Media & Communication Award for his inspirational message about the value of work, the greatness of America and the importance of accomplishment. He was cited as “one of our nation’s leading advocates of blue collar trades, employment opportunities for veterans and the Second Amendment.”
Rowe said that "Dirty Jobs” helped start a national conversation about the definition of a good job. While headlines talked about the high unemployment rate, “The people who ran the small businesses that we typically profiled on the show were struggling mightily to find people who were willing to learn a skill that actually was in demand, show up, stay late and do all the stuff that we all know is ultimately the key to any success story worth telling,” he said.
Rowe started a worth-ethic scholarship program for people willing to learn a skill in demand. “As soon as we started doing it, you know who stepped up first – the men and women of the U.S. armed forces,” Rowe said. “There they were … to say ‘I get it. My skills are already at work. I show up early. I stay late. You don’t have to train me to do that. What you can train me to do is weld. Or plumbing. Or electrical.’”
Rowe closed by saying there are 6 billion U.S. jobs that don’t require a college degree and are available now. The best of filling those jobs, he said, are “the people who are transitioning back into society (from the military) looking to apply the skills they already have. The unemployment rate for recently returning service people is just too damn high. And there’s no reason for it, because the opportunities are still here.
“So in my own little way, with my TV shows and my 5 million friends on Facebook and my little foundation, I’m going to do what I can to … tell the story about opportunities that actually exist, reward work ethic where I can find it, and most importantly thank each and every one of you for being the choir that is so much fun to preach to. You guys get it.”