A Salute to Veterans in Solar

What comes to mind when you think about Veteran’s Day? For me, first and foremost, I think of my Dad (below), who loved nothing more than recounting stories of his time spent as a sailor during World War II (I can remember lying on my stomach on the living room floor, looking up at him and listening, chin in hands, eyes wide).

I think of my Brother, Steve, and my Uncle, John, who both went to Vietnam, and were counted among some of the lucky ones who got to come home.  And I think of my Brother Kelley, who, although stationed state-side during the Gulf War, felt the effects, gained tremendous respect for, and built lasting friendships with those he served with.

Dad1
(My Dad, Ken, Left, at age 18 in 1944, and Right, in 2014 as an 88 year old Vet at the Lincoln, Maine Veteran’s Memorial)

Words that come to the top of my mind are pride, honor, remembrance, admiration, and the greatest, thanks. Trememdous thanks for all those who fought to secure the freedom we too often take for granted.

This time of year, I’m also thankful to be a part of the solar industry. That may sound odd in this context, but truly, to be a part of the very same industry that the Department of Energy believes in enough to launch a program designed specifically for preparing vets for careers? Yup – that brings things full circle for me.

military-branches

A few interesting facts about vets in the solar industry:

1. In the U.S., solar companies employs twice as many veterans as the average industry

Twice. Like any employer, those in the solar industry look for highly skilled, disciplined employees who can work on their own, as well as on a team. When it comes to solar, many vets already have a mechanical/technical background that lends itself well to solar. This generation of vets also has a heightened sense of the need to shed our reliance on fossil fuels; they’re familiar with a variety of tools, generators, electricity, and they come equipped with experience and understanding of the chain of command, safety protocols, managing projects, leadership essentials, reliability, and respect. Who wouldn’t want an employee with those attributes? We’re so lucky to have these men and women filtering into the solar sector!

2. The Department of Veterans Affairs has committed to working with the DOE and State Approving Agencies for GI funding approval

This will give more vets the ability to use their GI benefits towards training and learning the skills they’ll need to interview for, and secure, well-paying jobs within the industry.

3. Each year for the next 5 years, nearly 250,000 men and women are expected to transition from the military into civilian life

That’s a huge number. Coincidentally, sometime by the end of 2015, the United States will likely see its one millionth solar install! Compare that with 2006, when only about 30,000 homes had a solar array. Seems like a perfect fit, since the solar industry is growing at a pace that seems almost unstoppable, and we need all the skilled employees we can get.

Veterans, we not only welcome you with open arms….we salute you!

Salute

I leave you with this quote from Illinois U.S. Representative Dan Lipinski: “On this Veteran’s Day, let us remember the service of our veterans, and let us renew our national promise to fulfill our sacred obligations to our veterans and their families who have sacrificed so much so that we can live free.”

Thank you, veterans.

Thank you, Dad.

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(Images from: gallery hip)

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