After serving in the U.S. Navy for 20 years, I understand the importance of focusing on the mission, working as a team, and holding yourself accountable. And after spending most of the past four years developing wind projects, I again see those same traits in the wind energy workforce. Not coincidentally, that’s why so many veterans are attracted to careers in wind.
Building a wind project, from the early design stages through construction and into operations and maintenance, is a big undertaking. You can only achieve success by working as a team. Deadlines are tight, the job can be physically and emotionally challenging, and everyone needs to pull their weight—all similar aspects to life in the armed services.
So I’m not surprised to see so many veterans among the country’s 114,000 wind workers. In fact, the American wind power is proud to hire veterans at a rate 67 percent higher than the average U.S. industry. The skills and knowledge they cultivate while serving make them uniquely positioned for overcoming wind’s distinct hurdles.
Having developed wind projects across the country, I have also seen how much opportunity they create in rural communities (which often have high veteran populations), where 99 percent of wind projects are built. Wind projects pay substantial state and local taxes, which helps fund new school investments, road repairs and emergency services. Landowners hosting wind turbines on their property also receive lease payments, offering a stable revenue stream that helps them through challenging times like droughts or periods of low crop prices.
Plus, wind farms are important job creators in rural areas. In fact, wind turbine technician is the country’s second fastest growing job, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. And again, many wind techs are veterans. The mechanical skills they learn while serving, and the experience they gain working as a team in physically challenging locations, make them prime candidates for work hundreds of feet off the ground in confined spaces as they operate and repair wind turbines.
In the service, we also work for a higher purpose, recognizing we’re striving to achieve goals bigger than ourselves. I feel the same sense of purpose working in wind, and I know many of my veteran coworkers feel the same way. We’re creating a new reliable, affordable domestic energy source that lessens our reliance on foreign oil. That makes our country more secure and is helping to build a better, cleaner future for generations to come.
With Veterans Day recently concluded, I would like to salute all of my wind co-workers who have served our country, and every man and woman who has worn the uniform. Thank you for your service!