by Crystal Young
75th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
1/15/2016 - HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah -- The
Solar Ready Vets program announced by President Barack Obama during a
visit to Hill Air Force Base in April 2015 will begin training the first
class of 24 veterans transitioning to the civilian workforce.
The training, which begins Feb. 1, is being provided by Salt Lake
Community College in partnership with the Department of Energy, which
oversees the initiative. Some of the training will take place in Hill
classrooms and some will be online "self-driven" learning.
"We've got to be relentless in our work to grow the economy and create
good jobs," Obama said during his visit. "I think everybody here at Hill
understands that one of the most important aspects of national security
is strong economic security."
Hill was chosen to be part of the program based on the number of exiting
military personnel from the installation, the strength of the
surrounding solar market and the capacity of nearby training
The base acquires 20 percent or more of its overall energy from
renewable energy sources. The base's solar array installation was
completed in June 2009, making it Utah's largest ground-mounted
photovoltaic system at the time.
"We take pride in the energy initiatives we have underway here," said
Col. Ron Jolly, 75th Air Base Wing installation commander.
Obama said the new program is one of many steps to help nearly 700,000 veterans and military spouses get a job.
Hill is the fourth base to implement the program -- which is already
underway at Camp Pendleton, California; Fort Carson, Colorado; and Naval
Air Station Norfolk, Virginia -- has already delivered 150 military
veterans ready to begin careers in the solar energy career field, one of
the fastest growing job sector's in the country.
While veterans are not guaranteed a job, the DOE reports that all of the
participating veterans have been extended job offers from renewable
energy companies participating in the initiative. Starting salaries for
these types of positions average $20 to $24 per hour. The program
prepares veterans to be strong candidates for a wide range of solar
energy careers, including management, photovoltaic installation, sales
and technical positions.
According to the DOE, the Department of Defense is the largest consumer
of energy in the federal government. So, to meet new goals set out in an
Executive Order signed March 19, 2015, for the federal government to
reduce emissions, some of the Solar Ready Vets graduates may return to
bases, helping build solar arrays that improve energy security.
The program is tied to the Department of Defense's SkillBridge
Initiative, a program designed to equip active duty military personnel
within six months of moving to veteran status with skills to enter the
"Solar power can be a key element of strategic energy agility for the
Air Force, and we see the industry growing rapidly. Solar Ready Vets is a
tremendous program providing energy-specific technical training to our
veterans, preparing them for high-skill jobs in the renewable energy
industry. We are proud to partner with the Energy Department, Veterans
Affairs, local colleges and our sister services on this important
endeavor, and hope to see Air Force vets working in the solar industry
across the country in the near future," said Miranda Ballentine,
Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Installations, Environment and
The Energy Department is working with the Department of Defense to
expand Solar Ready Vets to a total of ten military bases by late spring
"We have eight currently registered with more Airmen expressing interest
every day. Many are currently working through the application process,"
said Capt. Joshua Tate, deputy director of the 75th Force Support
The classes are paid for by the DOE during the startup phase and funding
for continuing classes can be paid for by the members' GI Bill
benefits, Tate said.