By Dan Brouillette, Secretary of Energy
November is Veterans Month, a time to pause and recognize how truly fortunate we are that so many men and women of various backgrounds and beliefs are willing to volunteer to serve, protect our country, and put themselves in harm’s way if necessary.
When their service ends, our veterans should be able to count on a healthy economy with ample job opportunities in the wide variety of fields for which they are suited. America’s service members make ideal employees because they receive the very highest level of training in leadership and teamwork. And many veterans have skills in advanced disciplines like mechanics, engineering, and science, all of which are growing career fields. Most importantly, military service is rooted in the idea that everyone, regardless of race, gender, or religion, is serving together, a critical feature of any successful company’s culture.
A well-educated, prepared workforce – one that also includes highly-skilled veterans – is critical to maintaining U.S. leadership in scientific discovery and innovation. And the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) cannot carry out our mission for energy, environment, and national security without such a workforce.
At the Department of Energy, we are proud to employ more than 4,600 veterans, and the number continues to grow. In 2020, one in every three new DOE hires has been a veteran, and we consistently receive “exemplary” ratings from the Interagency Council on Veterans Employment for hiring and retaining veterans.
The energy sector of our economy is one for which veterans are well-prepared by their military service. There are jobs ranging from oil and gas drilling and powerline work to ensuring security at our nuclear energy sites and installing renewable energy systems. Both the public and private sectors see the value of hiring veterans and are taking strides to assist with their transition to civilian life.
An example of an outstanding public sector program is Solar Ready Vets, launched as a pilot by DOE in 2014 to connect our nation’s skilled veterans to the industry by preparing them for careers as solar photovoltaic system installers, sales reps, system inspectors, and other solar jobs. After graduating 526 students in 10 states, the program, which was enabled by the U.S. Department of Defense’s SkillBridge initiative, was expanded into the Solar Ready Vets Network, a group of relevant workforce development programs to connect veterans and transitioning military service members with careers in the sector.
On the private side, one program I got to learn about firsthand is a collaboration between Duke Energy and Fayetteville Technical Community College (FTCC) in North Carolina. As part of Duke’s Veteran Hiring Initiative, FTCC runs a training program to help veterans gain the training to become skilled electrical linemen and eventually enter the workforce. During a visit to Fayetteville, I watched a lineman training demonstration and met with several program participants. Each was eager to continue serving his or her community by doing this critical work.
The Department of Energy is committed to supporting and empowering American workers, especially servicemembers separating from active duty. This Veterans Month we recommit ourselves to ensuring veterans continue to play a key role in our Nation’s energy workforce to secure a safe, prosperous future for our country.
Veterans and transitioning service members can find more information about our STEM workforce programs on our STEM Rising website.