Memorial Day 2012 is particularly poignant, as it marks the growing return home of thousands and thousands of young men and women who served in our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The unemployment rate for these returning veterans far exceeds that of the general public. So rather than just remember them with parades and bunting, let’s respond and show our gratitude for their brave acts of valor by offering them good jobs and a chance to start a career here at home.
America’s freight railroads have for almost 200 years sought out military veterans to hire. Veterans’ courage, adherence to safety, sense of teamwork and adaptability make them ideal railroaders. Early West Point grads helped lead the U.S. rail industry’s formation, while Civil War veterans were there to help build and connect our nation by rail from coast to coast. The hard and dedicated work of thousands of railroad war veterans have helped make this country’s rail network the best in the world. This year, the freight rail industry plans to hire approximately 15,000 employees, and 1 in 5 of them likely will have served in America’s armed forces.
Today, 25 percent of our workforce has military service, many in positions that transformed from a job into a career. Railroads offer people the chance to have a true lifelong career in a good job, with good training, great wages and benefits, and to work at a place that encourages individuals to achieve their highest potential.
Veterans have tremendous leadership and operational skills they put to good use in a railroad career. With qualifications that range from advanced technical skills to inherent leadership qualities and discipline, veterans have always been distinctly suited to the wide array of jobs in our industry. And the need for their exceptional abilities will only increase in the years to come.
Railroads, like our military, are mission critical to the health and security of our nation. So on this Memorial Day, we not only salute veterans and thank them for their military service, we also want them to know freight railroads stand ready and proud to offer them their next career in service to our country.