At the Department of Energy, we believe that our commitment to our service members and their families does not end when their military career does. For many veterans, the transition from military to civilian life can be difficult, especially when it comes to translating their previous skills into a new career. These women and men are not only American heroes, they possess valuable skills and experiences that when matched with the right company make them incredibly valuable employees.
That’s why the Department of Energy and the Department of Defense partnered with the First Lady of the United States to support Joining Forces, which was created four years ago this month. Since then, companies that made commitments to Joining Forces have hired 540,000 veterans and military spouses, many of whom are within the energy sector.
Last Thursday, the First Lady announced that companies from the energy, manufacturing, transportation and information technology sectors have committed to hiring approximately 90,000 veterans and military spouses over the next five years.
Commitments include some of America’s biggest energy firms and organizations like the Solar Energy Industries Association, which pledged to hire 33,000 veterans and military spouses over the next five years to reach 50,000 veterans total in that sector. The American Wind Energy Association also committed to encouraging member companies to make veterans and military spouses account for 10 percent of their hires over the next five years.
America’s small businesses are just as committed to not only create jobs, but careers, for our military veterans and spouses. PDC Machines, a small family-owned fuel cell business in Warminster, Pennsylvania, also pledged to make veterans and military spouses account for 10 percent of their hires over the next five years.
To build on the Administration’s efforts, my office at the Department of Energy, the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, has launched several exciting new pilot programs that are matching the unique abilities of veterans with rapidly growing opportunities within the clean energy sector.
Just last month, President Obama announced that the Solar Ready Vets program -- a partnership between the Department of Energy and the Department of Defense to train military personnel for careers in the solar industry -- will be expanding to a total of 10 military bases across the nation. This builds on a successful pilot program that kicked off on three bases in 2015: Camp Pendleton in California, Fort Carson in Colorado and Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia.
Making this even more effective for our transitioning military members, the Department of Energy also secured commitments from the five largest U.S. solar companies to interview the graduating trainees from our pilot programs. This means that when our first class of 20 Marines and Sailors graduated from Camp Pendleton, all 20 received job offers.
To bring veterans into the federal government workforce, the Energy Department’s Federal Energy Management Program launched the Veterans Internship Program, which provides student-veterans valuable experience while researching and analyzing federal energy management challenges. The program is currently in its second year.
Last year, 19 veterans participated in a six-week advanced manufacturing course, spearheaded by the Advanced Manufacturing Office and conducted by Pellissippi State Community College, Oak Ridge Associated Universities and Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. During the course, participants combined classroom learning and hands-on work in 3D-printing and other advanced manufacturing technologies.
We know what significant contributions veterans can continue making to our nation, because more than a third of the Department of Energy’s employees are veterans. We will continue to do all that we can to help our transitioning service members develop opportunities that keep them actively engaged in work on behalf of a grateful nation.