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Advocates Push Green Jobs For Veterans

More veterans are looking for jobs after they complete their terms of service. Advocates in Ohio say clean energy projects protect the environment and provide good jobs for vets. Ohio Public Radio's 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.

Voje: “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. So they have an incredible work ethic, they know what needs to be done, they do what is necessary and they do so safely.”

Voje, who served in the Navy, knows first-hand just how fit veterans can be for these jobs.

Voje: “As a military veteran I think I’m well-suited to run that organization cause it’s very similar to running a ship that I had previously been on. You have a lot of people with different needs and 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.

Alberts: “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.”

Along with providing jobs for veterans, Operation Free believes renewable and efficient energy ultimately protects national security by stabilizing the civilian grid.

Jim has been with WCBE since 1996. Before that he worked as a reporter at another Columbus radio station, and for three newspapers in Southwest Florida.