Growing Number of Veterans Choosing to Work in Cleantech

Growing Number of Veterans Choosing to Work in Cleantech

For many military veterans looking for jobs, it isn't just the paycheck that's important-- it's the gratification they get from working with a team towards a common mission. The growing cleantech community is seeing an influx in veteran workers as the war in Iraq has come to an end and the war in Afghanistan is winding down.


One cleantech company, Tesla Motors, is enjoying its 10 percent veteran and military employee base. In an article on the Mercury news, a Tesla spokeswoman said, "Veterans are the perfect fit for this company because many of them gained incredibly advanced technical, electrical and mechanical skills in the service that are directly applicable to manufacturing electric vehicles."

The Department of Defense has lately been investing in energy efficiency and clean technology, eager to reduce its dependence on oil and the diminish the need for fossil fuels which violence so often seems to revolve around. The support of clean energy is directly tied to saving lives, says Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, who has pointed out that for every 50 convoys of gasoline brought into a war zone, a Marine is killed or wounded.

"The way to get off of foreign oil is through wind and solar. Our guys believe in it," said Richard D'Amato, who was a Marine during the Vietnam era. "It's a rallying point, especially in California, where the cost of energy is so darn high. I've met their families, and their wives always say 'What you guys are doing with renewable energy is great.' "

There are no hard statistics about how many veterans work in cleantech, or whether proportionately more veterans enter cleantech than other sectors of the economy. But for veterans like Michael Eyman, who ended a 17-year Navy career in 2009, cleantech seemed a perfect fit.

"I started thinking about clean energy when I was out with Operation Southern Watch in the late 1990s," said Eyman, referring to the U.S. patrols of the "no-fly" zone in Iraq. "When you are in the Middle East as a military person, you start to wonder: 'Why am I here? Why is the United States so interested in this region?' And energy quickly becomes one of the issues."