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Veterans Being Steered Into Green Jobs

By CityTownInfo.com Staff
May 20, 2009

Several organizations are directing veterans to enter the green jobs field, noting that renewable energy developers appreciate military experience, and environmental work can be therapeutic for those who spent time at war.

CNN.com reports that the Veterans Conservation Corps Initiative in Washington state is giving veterans the opportunity to work on projects that help restore the environment in state parks. In turn, the very physical outdoor work serves as a type of therapy for veterans affected by the horrors of war.

"Sometimes it feels really good," said veteran Jeremy Grisham of the work. "When we take invasive weeds off a tree that's being suffocated and we free something. I feel a bit lighter inside."

Mark Fischer, VCC's program manager, explained that the work trains vets for new careers in green jobs while giving them something meaningful on which to focus. "Outdoor work," he said, "is healing."

Vets who contact the VCC enroll in a local community college and become part of a group of veterans who volunteer for community projects, such as cleaning up garbage along state park roads. Graduates of the program have gone on to work for the state division of forestry and the park system. Others have created their own companies working on green projects.

The program has been valuable for veterans returning from war, unsure of what to do next and facing a brutal job market. Kyle Lemieux, a veteran who described the difficulties of returning to civilian life after a lengthy deployment, noted that VCC gave him purpose. He plans to work as a forestry engineer after graduation.

In a related story, The New York Times reports that the Colorado-based Veterans Green Jobs is training veterans for work in energy efficiency, in part because energy developers are attracted to the military's emphasis on safety and nuclear training.

"Many job seekers come out of the military with training that is directly applicable to civilian energy needs, for instance in the nuclear power sector," explained Bill Scott, a vice president of marketing at Bradley Morris, a military job placement company.

John Ward, a Navy veteran, is one such example. His military engineering skills came in handy when took a job at Iberdrola, a Spanish wind developer.

"For me, it was nice, because it's not just a desk job, it's a field job," Ward explained. "And as a career naval officer, I kind of like to be out and about."

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