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Rail industry commits to hiring 5,000 veterans in 2012


U.S. freight, intercity passenger and commuter railroads and rail suppliers have come together to commit to hiring a combined 5,000 military veterans this year as part of the national “Joining Forces” initiative, industry and federal officials announced yesterday.

“It’s a unique commitment that this industry is focused on hiring veterans now and in the near future,” Joining Forces Executive Director Bradley Cooper said during a press conference held yesterday.

The 2012 commitment follows the freight-rail industry’s hiring of 5,000 veterans in 2011, said Association of American Railroads (AAR) President and Chief Executive Officer Ed Hamberger. About one in four new railroad employees hired last year were veterans.

Hiring former military personnel is not a new commitment for the rail industry, Hamberger said.

“It is born of two centuries of experience and partnership between this industry and the armed services,” he said. “The first graduates of West Point worked on the transcontinental railroad over 150 years ago. The skills that veterans learn in the armed forces translate well into our industry.”

Joining Forces is an initiative launched last year by First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, to encourage businesses and industries to commit to hiring U.S. military veterans or their spouses. Since the initiative was launched, more than 1,600 companies have hired 90,000 veterans or their spouses, Cooper said.

The 2012 hiring targets from various rail sectors include:

•    Freight railroads, represented by the AAR and American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association, have targeted hiring at least 4,700 veterans.

•    Passenger railroads, represented by the AAR and American Public Transportation Association, have targeted hiring about 500 veterans.

•    Rail supply and service companies, also represented by the AAR, have committed to hiring at least 200 veterans.

Military veterans have the “right skills and training for successful careers in transportation,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said during the press conference.

More than 15,000 veterans work for the U.S. Department of Transportation; about 3,000 have disabilities related to their military service, said LaHood.

“We are making progress in our mission [to hire veterans] but we have more work to do,” he added, noting the department recently joined with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to create a job-search web portal,, for military members returning home from recent service.

Meanwhile, CSX Corp. officials announced yesterday that the Class I is nearly halfway to meeting its pledge to hire about 1,000 veterans this year.

“The nearly one in five current CSX employees who are active or former service members bring unique skills, accountability and teamwork to their jobs, helping our railroads operate safely and efficiently,” said CSX Senior Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer Lisa Mancini in a prepared statement.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 7/11/2012