A New Mission: Veterans Day Sheds Light on Clean Energy Employment After the Military

A New Mission: Veterans Day Sheds Light on Clean Energy Employment After the Military

At Enel, celebrating Veterans Day means not only honoring those who have served in the U.S. military, but also recognizing their integral role in the clean energy transition, as many veterans find employment in clean energy after leaving the military.

Each year on November 11, the United States celebrates Veterans Day to honor those who have served in the military. The day also shines light on a challenge familiar to many veterans who have left active duty service — finding a civilian career that transfers their skills and aligns with their commitment to mission-driven work.

Our Proud to Serve Employee Resource Group is made up of veterans of all branches of the U.S. military who have found a new mission in shaping the future of clean energy and decarbonizing our world. We spoke to members about their impact in serving our country and their impact now at Enel, serving our planet.

  • Cassandra Bliss, Senior Environmental Engineer – Served in the U.S. Army for four years and the U.S. Army Reserve for seven months
  • David Haarman, Wind Site Manager – Served in the U.S. Navy for six years
  • Jeff Clark, Health, Safety, Environment & Quality Manager – Served in the U.S. Army for 16 years
  • Lee Herrick, Solar Technician – Served in the U.S. Marine Corps for six years
  • Nicole Mikkelson, Senior Manager of Project Engineering – Served in the U.S. Navy for seven years
  • Stan Delp, Wind Electrical Controls Specialist – Served in the U.S. Army for 12 years and the U.S. Air Force for 12 years
Just like we served when our country needed us, in this industry you can serve when the world needs us. We are needed to make a cleaner source of energy for our future.
— Jeff Clark, Health, Safety, Environment & Quality Manager

Mission-Driven Work in Clean Energy

Every day, Enel’s work reinforces a greater mission of decarbonizing the planet, electrifying the economy and securing a more sustainable future for all. In the same way the military enables soldiers, airmen and sailors to serve others, selflessness is foundational to clean energy work.

Jeff Clark is a Health, Safety, Environment & Quality Manager, but he previously served as an officer in the U.S. Army for 16 years. For Jeff, serving in the military was a lifelong dream that he described as an “honor and privilege.” After he left the military, Jeff chose to work at Enel because he saw the world’s need for electricity, specifically accessible and economic renewable energy, during his time overseas.

“Working for Enel gives me hope that as this industry continues to grow and technology gets better and better, one day electricity will be available for all,” Jeff said.

Cassandra Bliss, Senior Environmental Engineer, served four active years in the U.S. Army and seven months in the U.S. Army Reserve. She believes that veterans have a “desire for selfless service and community contribution that makes sense to channel into renewables.” Cassandra has a passion for environmental conservation and sustainability and is proud to work for the greater good and a greener change. She believes that more veterans should look to work in renewables because “it fills the need to be part of something greater than yourself.”

You never end your day wondering whether or not you made a positive difference in the world.
— Cassandra Bliss, Senior Environmental Engineer

Transferring Skills from Military to Renewables

Those serving in the military are instilled with a sense of duty and a community unlike any other line of work. These qualities, along with technical skills required for many military occupations, make veterans excellent candidates for work in clean energy.

And there’s already a considerable number of veterans in the renewables industry. In 2020, veterans made up about 10% of the clean energy workforce, while they constituted only 6% of the nation’s civilian workforce.

For Lee Herrick, Solar Technician – Operations & Maintenance, the skills he gained in his six years in the Marine Corps fit well into Enel’s work. After working in aircraft maintenance, Lee switched to ensuring the safe and reliable operation of a solar farm. “Military life helps to develop the skills and attitude that are required to perform high-quality work. It also emphasizes the importance of team unity, which is vital on a solar project as well.”

David Haarman, Wind Site Manager at Fenner wind farm, experienced a similar transfer of skills from the military to wind energy, as he reflected on his six years enlisted in the U.S. Navy. Serving on two ships helped David develop both soft and hard skills that are valuable in today’s job market and at Enel: “Cultivating working relationships with people from diverse backgrounds, correcting difficult problems with creative solutions on stringent timelines — all with a focus on safety.”

A career in clean energy after leaving the military can bring technical skills and passions together, as it has for Nicole Mikkelson, Senior Manager of Project Engineering. In her seven years in the U.S. Navy, Nicole worked in nuclear power, radiation safety and leadership. According to Nicole, Enel has given her the opportunity to build upon the skills she gained in the service while positively impacting both people and the planet in the pursuit of renewables for all.

Supporting Veterans in a Career Transition

Despite the excellent technical and leadership skills veterans are equipped with in the military, a transition to civilian work is often difficult to navigate. Even after securing a job, veterans must shift how they’ve worked for many years.

According to Enel’s Proud to Serve ERG, it can be a challenge to express how military skills transfer to other careers when interviewing for jobs, and people might make assumptions about what work in the military looks like. But by and large, veterans enter the civilian workforce with an incredible drive to succeed, perform under pressure, work with teams and serve as leaders.

For the ERG, the best way to serve those who have served us is to simply have conversations with veterans — about their experiences, motivations and goals for growth. Stan Delp, Wind Electrical Controls Specialist, emphasized the value of patience and support groups in the workplace, such as employee resource groups and mental health services.

Enel recognizes the unique needs of those exiting military careers and in turn prioritizes specialized support for veterans’ healthcare and in the workplace. By 2023, we will increase pay benefits for military leave from three weeks to 12 weeks. This way, employees in the Reserve or National Guard can complete their service without financial stress. We’re also continuing to reskill veterans and employees from outside industries to ensure their existing talents are confidently transferred to work in renewables.

Serving Those Who Served Our Country

At Enel North America, we’re proud to support veterans in our ongoing efforts to create a diverse and inclusive workplace. We thank all members of the U.S. military for their service to our country. Now more than ever, the renewables industry needs leaders, problem solvers and technical experts to move the energy transition forward. We encourage veterans to explore careers at Enel to continue mission-driven work that will protect our planet and its people.