More and more veterans are looking for jobs as they return home from overseas. Advocates in Ohio say clean energy projects not only protect the environment, but provide good jobs for veterans. Statehouse correspondent Andy Chow reports.
Neil Voje (VOH-jay), general manager of Ohio’s largest wind farm, says his ideal employee is detail oriented, dedicated to continued learning and possesses a strong work ethic. Voje says energy jobs are a good fit for military veterans returning from their tours overseas, especially since most service members pick up such skills in their training.
“Electricity is electricity, so we deal with some very high voltages, and in production of that electricity many of the guys in the military -- men and women -- are similarly skilled," Voje said. "So they have an incredible work ethic, they know what needs to be done, they do what's necessary and they do so safely.”
Voje, who served in the Navy, knows first-hand just how fit veterans can be for these jobs.
“As a military veteran I think I’m well-suited to run that organization because it’s very similar to running a ship that I had previously been on," he said. You have a lot of people, different needs, different outcomes, and you have to do your best to shoulder all those burdens and come out with a desired outcome.”
Voje was at the Statehouse Wednesday with Operation Free, an organization that gathers veterans to advocate for clean energy issues. Voje and other veterans are calling on state legislators to support strong energy efficiency standards, and they say the provisions included in the latest proposal to overhaul the state’s energy standards will weaken the energy efficiency market and could drive jobs away from Ohio.
Brian Alberts, of the Timber Road Wind Farm, served in the U.S. Army. He says veterans will miss out on good employment opportunities if energy efficiency projects start leaving Ohio.
"The discipline that comes from a unified military branch usually helps in continuing education, continuing training and adaptation as industry evolves and as technology continues to revamp itself and bring on new models of equipment," Alberts said.
Along with providing jobs for veterans, Operation Free believes renewable and efficient energy ultimately protects national security by stabilizing the civilian grid.