On Veterans Day, we honor the more than 21 million living American veterans. Here at the Department of Energy, we are honored to have the opportunity to express our gratitude to veterans of previous wars, welcome home those who have recently served, and thank the future veterans who still stand sentry for our nation.
To play our part in appreciating our service members, the Department of Energy is working hard to open doors to career opportunities for veterans in the dynamic solar industry, which now employs more than 174,000 people -- more than auto and light truck manufacturing -- and has been adding jobs 20 times faster than the wider economy. Already, we are proud that veterans make up more than 10 percent of the solar industry workforce.
To build on this strong trend, last year the Department of Energy launched the Solar Ready Vets pilot program to provide veterans transitioning out of the military and into civilian life with the skills they need to enter the rapidly growing solar industry. The program provides training to our service members just prior to their leaving active duty and helps prepare them for jobs as installers, inspectors, electricians, sales representatives and a number of other roles.
In addition to offering intensive, hands-on solar skills training, the program culminates with a series of interviews with some of the nation’s leading solar companies. The great news is that every Solar Ready Vets graduate has received job offers in this rapidly expanding industry.
Solar Ready Vets training programs have already been established at Camp Pendleton in California, Fort Carson in Colorado, and Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia. A program at Hill Air Force Base in Utah will start early next year. President Obama announced the expansion of our efforts in April 2015, committing to 10 installations during the program’s pilot phase, with additional plans to expand the program across the country.
The Solar Ready Vets program is just one way that the Department of Energy is saying “thank you” to the men and women who have worn our nation’s uniform on Veterans Day and every day.