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The White House
Office of the First Lady
For Immediate Release

Rail Industry Joins Forces with Secretary LaHood and First Lady’s Initiative to Hire Veterans

500 rail industry companies to hire over 5,000 veterans in 2012

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, Association of American Railroads (AAR) President and CEO Ed Hamberger and Joining Forces Executive Director Brad Cooper announced that the railroad industry will hire more than 5,000 veterans in 2012. Five hundred companies and organizations including freight, inter-city passenger and commuter railroads, as well as rail supply companies represented by AAR are making today’s significant commitment.

“As a result of their service, veterans have the right skills and training for successful careers in transportation,” said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood. “Helping our veterans find work strengthening America’s transportation system is a commitment we are proud to fulfill.”

The rail industry joins the First Lady and Dr. Biden’s Joining Forces initiative launched last year to bring Americans together to recognize, honor and take action to support veterans and military families as they serve our country and throughout their lives. More than 1,600 companies have hired more than 90,000 veterans and military spouses in the last year through Joining Forces. These same companies have committed to hire 170,000 veterans and military spouses in the coming years.

“The commitment from AAR and companies in the railway industry to veteran hiring is exactly the type of effort we hoped to see when the First Lady and Dr. Biden launched Joining Forces last year – companies stepping up to hire our nation’s veterans. The railway industry clearly recognizes that hiring veterans is good for their companies’ bottom line and we are appreciative of their efforts to serve veterans as well as they have served this country,” Joining Forces Executive Director Brad Cooper said.

Railroad companies have hired military men and women for almost two centuries and today 25 percent of the industry’s workforce has military service. This is because of the natural link between military service skills and railroad careers. Servicemen and women gain experience working with heavy machinery, managing safety operations, conducting their work in challenging conditions, promoting teamwork and being adaptable. Knowing that these skills are easily translatable, the rail industry is looking to veterans to fill jobs that have become available due to waves of retirements occurring every year. Today, roughly 23 percent of the railroad workforce is eligible to retire by 2015.

“Railroads offer people the chance to have true life-long careers in well-paying jobs,” said Hamberger. “We are proud to offer our heroes transitioning from military service the opportunity for another career in service to our country.”

Key Commitments and Opportunities in the Rail Industry Include:
• Freight Railroads: the nation’s freight railroads, including the country’s major Class I and shortline railroads, will hire at least 4,700 veterans in 2012.  This year’s aggressive hiring target is in line with the industry’s sizable hiring trend kicked off in 2011 in the face of a significant wave of retirements.
• Passenger Railroads: the nation’s inter-city passenger and commuter railroads will hire approximately 500 veterans in 2012, based on the significant need to fill positions being made vacant through retirements as well as through typical attrition. Passenger railroads also estimate 12 to 14 percent of new hires will be veterans.
• Rail Supply Companies: dozens of the nation’s rail supply companies represented by AAR have committed to hire at least 200 veterans in 2012.  These companies are responsible for supplying materials and equipment, including rail components, cars and locomotives and cutting edge technology.

To connect veterans with employment opportunities available today, AAR is also collaborating with the Department of Transportation to list available rail industry jobs on the newly established “Veteran Transportation Career Center” website at: http://www.dot.gov/veteranstransportationcareers/ To learn more about the companies participating in the Joining Forces commitment, please visit www.aar.org, or to learn about the rail industry’s history of hiring veterans, please visit www.aar.org/jobs. For more information on Joining Forces, please visit www.JoiningForces.gov.