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First Lady Michelle Obama and representatives of the fuel cell company, PDC Machines. The April event announced new private-sector commitments to train or hire 90,000 veterans and military spouses through the Joining Forces Initiative. Two Fuel Cell Technologies Office-supported companies were acknowledged for their commitment to these efforts. | Photo courtesy of the White House
First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden launched Joining Forces, a nationwide initiative calling all Americans to rally around service members, veterans, and their families. In August 2011, President Obama challenged the private sector to hire 100,000 veterans and military spouses. Businesses and organizations across the country quickly met the challenge, and four years later, the employment picture for veterans had improved substantially.
In April 2015, the First Lady participated in an event celebrating how far we have come, and announcing new private-sector commitments to train or hire 90,000 veterans and military spouses. At the event, two Fuel Cell Technologies Office (FCTO)-supported companies were acknowledged for their commitment to these efforts. Air Liquide committed to making veterans 10% of their annual hires and PDC Machines committed to making veterans or military spouses 8%-10% of their workforce by 2020.
Air Liquide is currently working with FCTO to decrease cost and improve the reliability of hydrogen dispensing technologies through a number of projects. They met their Joining Forces goal in 2015 by participating in military job fairs, training recruiters on the value and skills that veterans can bring to their company, and posting job openings to websites geared toward veterans, such as the Veteran Employment Center.
And the support doesn’t end once employees are hired. Air Liquide has established a veteran employee resource group called “Air Liquide Vets” to create awareness of current veterans at Air Liquide and to support the needs of the modern veteran through social networking, community events, and other activities. The group has the potential to be key in recruiting and retaining veterans, serving the community, and further developing Air Liquide’s commitment to veterans. Air Liquide is also a member of H2USA, a public-private partnership launched by DOE and partners to address hydrogen infrastructure barriers.
PDC Machines uses similar techniques to recruit and support veterans in their workforce, and they have also benefitted from the value and skills veterans bring to their company. PDC Machines has nearly achieved their hiring goal and continues to prioritize offering interviews to qualified veterans. As a small family business, they are able to focus on the individual needs of all employees who rely on seasoned veterans as an internal support for newly hired veterans. Most recently, PDC Machines has relied on veterans to lead their service team. The company is currently working with both the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory on FCTO-supported projects to improve hydrogen compression technologies.
The private industry’s renewed commitment to hiring veterans highlights the value veterans bring to the workforce. The Fuel Cell Technologies Office is working to help in this effort by taking part in regional workshops and developing online tools for veterans looking for second careers in the hydrogen and fuel cell industry. Since August 2011, businesses have hired and trained more than half a million veterans and military spouses. The resources provided through Joining Forces will continue to help veterans transition from military service to civilian employment, ensuring that service members, veterans, and their families have the tools they need to succeed throughout their lives.