Authors: Ladan Sobhani
Green For All Program Manager Ladan Sobhani highlights the work of a new veterans service and green jobs training organization:Veterans Green Jobs. To read more information about People and Programs that are building the inclusive green economy, see our Resources Section.
Regardless of their position on the two Gulf Wars, most Americans recognize that our Veterans fought a war over energy. This fact is not lost on Veterans Green Jobs, a new kind of veterans service organization comprised of both veterans and civilians who share a larger mission of ensuring that the American heroes who have fought the front lines of our wars over energy are on the front lines of reducing our nation’s dependence on energy.
Based out of Boulder, Colorado, Veterans Green Jobs launched the first class of 15 trainees in April of 2009 for a nine week Green Jobs Training Program that will skill up veterans in home weatherization and efficiency. They'll learn how to audit a building to identify where energy is being wasted. They'll learn to caulk leaky holes, install energy efficient appliances, and insulate attics. And they’ll learn and work alongside other veterans, a best practice for supporting veterans’ successful transitions back into civilian life.
Veterans Green Jobs is a non-profit organization that not only provides green jobs training, but individualized mentoring and support services with the aim that every participant realizes their maximum potential and secures meaningful, living-wage work. Veterans represent a field-tested workforce, dedicated to serving a mission greater than themselves, which makes them ideal for positions in the new green economy, helping to rebuild, revitalize and green our communities.
Veterans Green Jobs Training Programs vary from short 2-month intensives to full academic-year programs, both residential and non-residential, in order to create as many gateways to higher ‘green’ education and green career development as possible for veterans.
Already Veterans Green Jobs has seen the positive response that their trainees get when out in the field, accompanying trained home energy auditors. Vets have a unique capacity to talk to the public about the need for energy efficiency – it’s not just the right thing to do for the environment, it’s the patriotic thing to do.
But Veterans Green Jobs isn’t limiting their program to efficiency. They’re getting vets out in nature doing trail building, fire hazard reduction and planting trees. Using satellite imagery, Veterans Green Jobs plans to identify the heat sinks in particular communities and find funders to support the urban reforestation that will cool those cities. Additional courses will soon be offered in disaster preparedness and response, biodiesel production and grease-car conversions, green building and historic building preservation. Veterans Green Jobs is also working on an exciting initiative to secure foreclosed properties and use them as green retrofit training sites. As part of the program, VGJ is working with Unions to have the projects designated as pre-apprenticeship training sites. After the homes are renovated for energy efficiency, they will then be sold back to veterans, enhancing both the physical and social infrastructure of the local community.
The Veterans Green Jobs Academy is currently being piloted in Colorado, Washington and Louisiana, and will be expanding into 5-10 additional states by the end of this year. For more information, visit: http://veteransgreenjobs.org.