Railroad Industry Commits to Hiring 5,000 Veterans in 2012

Ed note: This post was originally published on FastLane, the official blog of the U.S. Department of Transportation

I’ve written before about how veterans have the right skills and training for successful careers in transportation as a result of their service. And at DOT, helping our veterans find work strengthening America’s transportation system is a commitment we are proud to fulfill.

That’s why yesterday, I was proud to join Association of American Railroads (AAR) President and CEO Ed Hamberger and Joining Forces Executive Director Brad Cooper to announce that 500 companies and organizations from America's railroad industry will hire more than 5,000 veterans in 2012.

Participants in this outstanding initiative include freight, inter-city passenger, and commuter railroads, as well as rail supply companies represented by AAR, and I thank them for of their commitment to America's heroes.

Hiring experienced military men and women into the railroad industry is not a new practice. For nearly two centuries, rail manufacturers and operators have recognized that our veterans bring a wealth of skills that translate from military service to successful railroad careers.  In fact, 25 percent of the industry’s current workforce has military service.

Yesterday’s renewed commitment from AAR and its members builds on the First Lady and Dr. Biden’s Joining Forces initiative to recognize, honor, and support veterans and military families during their service to our country and throughout their lives.

Since launching last year, Joining Forces has already paid tremendous dividends. More than 1,600 companies have hired more than 90,000 veterans and military spouses. And these same companies have committed to hire 170,000 veterans and military spouses in the coming years.

At DOT, we’ve found that hiring veterans is a win for everyone involved. And we want to continue putting the men and women who have served this nation to work in our rail yards, in our skies, and throughout our transit systems.

Last month, we joined with our friends at Veterans Affairs to launch a new web portal, the Veterans Transportation Career Center aimed at helping veterans find transportation jobs and helping transportation companies find qualified veterans.

And just last week, we announced the second round of grants through our Veterans Transportation and Community Living Initiative, making $29 million available for 64 projects in 33 states. These funds will improve access to the transportation services that our veterans, military families, and wounded warriors greatly need to connect with jobs, education, medical services, and other opportunities in their communities.

Our veterans have the skills and real life experience that we need to help rebuild America. Removing a few of the barriers that stand in the way of their success and connecting them with the employment opportunities that they deserve is the least we can do to thank them for their service.

We’re making progress in that mission, and AAR's hiring commitment is a terrific step forward.

Ray LaHood is the U.S. Secretary of Transportation

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