Veterans and Green Jobs

Many veterans find themselves unsure of what to do when they return from service. This is natural – after having several years of structure, strict discipline, daily goals and extreme stress, it can be difficult to adjust to a much more laid back civilian lifestyle. Regardless, many veterans know that they want to start a career and to do something meaningful with the rest of their lives. One way to do this is by obtaining an education through colleges online or on campus and to begin a career in the green sector.

The green sector is relatively new. It comprises a variety of industries, all of which are attempting to make the United States more environmentally sustainable. For example, a solar panel installation company would be considered part of the green sector, as would the construction and sale of the Chevrolet Volt, as would a parks conservancy organization. In short, there are a lot of environmentally conscious companies and organizations that employ skilled individuals who believe in the mission of sustainability and stewardship. Moreover, many veterans get personal satisfaction out of working within the green sector.

While there is currently no specific federal program in place to help veterans find green jobs, there are a variety of programs, such as the Subsidized Employment for Veterans (SEV) program that can be applied to green employment as well as regular employment. The SEV, for example, provides employers with a subsidy to help them afford to employ additional individuals, provided that the additional individuals are veterans. This is a great win-win situation: veterans get work, while companies get additional help that they previously could not afford.

Other such programs exist on the state level. For example, according to the Cape Gazette, recent legislation in Delaware, in the form of the Veterans Opportunity Tax Credit, would provide employers with up to a $1,500 annual tax credit for up to four years for each veteran they hire. The Veterans Opportunity Tax Credit will be voted on soon, and has broad bipartisan support. Again, while this program does not target green jobs specifically, it makes it easier for all companies, including green companies, to hire veterans.

Moreover, there are a number of job boards and organizations to help veterans find green employment. The most prominent such organization is the non-profit Veterans Green Jobs, which offers recruitment and placement services, training in outdoor conservation and wind energy jobs, and outreach services. Veterans who are interested in green jobs should therefore look into joining or contacting this organization, or others like it.

While unemployment for veterans who served in Iraq or Afghanistan currently sits at 12.1%, according to the Huffington Post there is additional help on the way, in the form of the Veterans Jobs Corps, for which President Obama is currently seeking $1 billion. If the Corps becomes reality, it would employ 20,000 veterans in helping with the restoration of the United States’ land and resources. This would be an excellent example of successful green employment, if it comes to fruition. In the meantime, veterans with an interest in the green sector need to connect with non-profits like Veterans Green Jobs and take advantage of federal subsidies to help them get back to work – hopefully within the green sector.

Article by June Olsen.

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