With thousands of veterans slated to separate from service in the coming months and years, many of them will be looking for new employment opportunities. It's an issues that has attracted a considerable amount of attention from both legislators and private companies, and it turns out there is one industry that is particularly popular among servicemembers – railroads. An estimated 25 percent of all railroad employees are veterans and the trend is expected to continue, according to The Associated Press.
A longstanding relationship
Veterans and the railroads have a relationship that dates back well over 100 years. In fact, Civil War veterans played an integral role in the construction of the country's railways in the 1860s and 70s. Servicemembers are well suited for railroad jobs for a number of reasons. For one, they gravitate toward jobs that have a similar structure to the military, and with excitement, a specific mission and a chain of command, railroad jobs certainly offer just that. Furthermore, given the demanding nature of serving in the military, vets are used to jobs' sometimes arduous tasks and long hours. The camaraderie is also something that draws veterans to the railroad.
"It's a proud company with a proud heritage – very similar to the military," Sandy Suver, who left the Navy in 1998, told the AP. "The similarities are uncanny sometimes."
Solution to unemployment?
Unemployment among post-9/11 veterans has captured a lot of attention in recent months. The April report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that the rate has dropped to 7.5 percent, but it had previously stood higher than the civilian population. With many troops expected to come home in the next several months, there is still work to be done. Looking for jobs in industries such as the railroad, emergency medical services and other areas that utilize the skills vets learned during their time in the military has become a priority.
Companies commit to hiring troops
A number of private organizations have been actively recruiting servicemembers, and the most recent company to do so is Prudential. Through its VETnet program, the insurance giant has been reaching out to qualified servicemembers looking to smooth their transition from active duty to civilian life.