With the war officially over in Iraq and a drawdown of hostilities in Afghanistan, a number of military veterans will be returning home over the next few years. A great deal of these veterans will be looking for work.
A sector that is projected to grow over the next decade is that of clean energy. For veterans, the renewable energy field is a perfect fit. Due to their military training, numerous veterans already possess the necessary skills to succeed in renewable energy. Not only would this make an impact on the persistent problem of veteran unemployment, it will help the United States maintain its position as a clean energy leader in the world. Unfortunately, recent actions from Congress are severely hampering this budding relationship, through the delay of the Production Tax Credit (PTC) and the House Armed Services Committee barring the purchase of renewable energy sources by the military.
Over the next decade, there is expected to be a tremendous growth in the renewable energy field. Because of the skills that veterans possess, they can easily transition from the war zone into a career in renewable energy. Military training gives people the ability to adapt to multiple situations, learn while doing, and work well in a team-oriented environment. This not only holds true for officers (who already possess a bachelor’s degree or higher), but it is true for enlisted members as well. Both officers and enlisted personnel can take on management positions.
Veteran unemployment numbers are disproportionately higher than the national average. If you put a veteran in any situation, he or she will find a way to get the job done. If that is not enough, there are hundreds of training centers that will teach veterans the ins and outs of the renewable energy field, and there are firms, such as GC Green, that match veterans with renewable energy jobs.
Unfortunately, some members of Congress are trying to stunt the growth of this industry, and reduce the number of good jobs available to veterans. Earlier this month, the House Armed Services Committee ordered the Navy to stop purchasing biofuels. The Navy and the Marine Corps are leading the charge in transitioning from fossil fuel-based energy to more renewable forms of energy. Congress has yet to extend the Production Tax Credit. By stalling on this tax credit, many potential jobs will be at risk, and not just veterans’ jobs.
Jeff Duff, the chief operating officer of Airstreams Renewable (and an Army Veteran) says, “Veterans seeking good, well-paying jobs can find great opportunities in the clean energy sector, jobs that enable them to continue to help safeguard America's national security. Our veteran graduates are a great fit with our company, and the renewable energy industry in general, because they have seen the extent to which America's oil habit is directly connected to our national security, and they understand that true security lies in developing alternative energy sources here at home.”