New Group to Connect Veterans in Illinois With Careers in Clean Energy, Sustainability

New Group to Connect Veterans in Illinois With Careers in Clean Energy, Sustainability

Maj. Erich Bergiel, right, inspects the solar panels on the roof of the Marjeh Fruit and Vegetable Packing Facility in Afghanistan while he talks with Abdul Rahman, a renewable energy engineer. (Master Gunnery Sgt. Phil Mehringer / U.S. Department of Defense) During a two-year stint with the national service organization AmeriCorps, Jessica Klinge worked to expand recycling programs at a handful of Chicago Public Schools. In some schools, students volunteered to stand by the garbage bins and encourage their classmates to redirect empty milk cartons to the recycling container. Klinge also organized a “Green Week” that introduced students to a variety of sustainability initiatives. The week featured a number of guest speakers, including a person who makes clothes entirely out of plastic bags. Klinge did all of this while serving as a noncommissioned officer in the U.S. Army Reserve, where she has worked as a paralegal for nearly 15 years and now holds the title of sergeant first class. Her interest and background in environmental causes runs counter to what Klinge says is a stereotype surrounding veterans – that many of them don’t care about issues like sustainability and clean energy. In reality, Klinge said an increasing number of veterans are pursuing careers in fast-growing environmental sectors, like solar and wind energy, water quality, sustainable building and other fields. Later this month, Klinge will help launch the Illinois chapter of Green Veterans , a national group that helps veterans transition from military to civilian life by connecting them with training for “green industry” jobs and other resources. Based in Chicago, it will join existing chapters in Florida, Wisconsin, Michigan, Rhode Island and Puerto Rico, according to the organization’s website . In Milwaukee, a program run by Green Veterans founder and combat veteran Brian Sales uses urban gardening as an […]

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