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— by Jeff Stagl, Managing Editor
Over the past several years, Class Is have increased efforts to hire military veterans. Their leadership attributes, work ethic and in-depth training in various disciplines make veterans ideal railroad workers, Class I recruiters believe.
So do hiring managers at many short lines. But a number of small railroads lack the resources and know-how to recruit veterans. Enter the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association's (ASLRRA) Veterans Recruitment Committee. Formed in March 2012, the committee aims to provide member short lines the necessary tools and information to recruit veterans, as well as help vets learn about short-line career opportunities.
The nine-member committee is chaired by Pacific Harbor Line President Otis Cliatt. Other members include Vice Chair Shayne Magdoff, Genesee & Wyoming Inc.'s vice president of HR integration, and executives from ASLRRA, OmniTRAX Inc., Pinsly Railroad, KWTY Railroad, North Shore Railroad Co., Johnson County Community College and Daley Mohan Groble P.C.
The committee plans to survey short lines to find out how many hire vets now. ASLRRA has committed to hiring 2,500 veterans through President Obama's Veterans Job Plan Initiative, which drove the formation of the committee, says Cliatt.
The committee recently developed a brochure designed to inform exiting military personnel about available entry- to senior-level positions at short lines, such as dispatchers, locomotive engineers, operations managers and administrative executives. The brochure can be distributed at job fairs or downloaded from ASLRRA's website.
The committee also developed a section on the association's website devoted to veteran hiring. The web page includes information about the short-line industry and employment resources for vets, including links to hiring sites. Short lines can access various sites to post jobs aimed at attracting veteran candidates.
"Our goal is to get short lines to use the website and other resources," says Magdoff.
One of those resources is Hero2Hired (H2H), a U.S. Department of Defense-funded website designed to help exiting service members find jobs with military-friendly employers. H2H also offers career exploration tools, military-to-civilian skill translations, and education and training resources.
The committee reached out to H2H organizers because the site gets a lot of traffic and helps place veterans from all military service levels, says Eric O'Neill, a committee member and ASLRRA's chief financial officer.
"It's the audience we're trying to reach," he says.
Each short line can register on H2H and post jobs, or a group of railroads can create a "community" on the site, says Sam Giovinazzi, H2H's employment transition coordinator in California.
Veterans can search the site by job type, such as welder, or by a particular railroad, he says.
Currently, 4 million jobs are posted on H2H and 20,000 veterans have been placed through the site since it was launched in January 2013, says Giovinazzi.
The committee is striving to connect with veterans in every possible way because of the value military members can bring to the short-line workforce, says ASLRRA President Richard Timmons, a 32-year U.S. Army veteran who retired in 1998 as a three-star general.
"These men and women have been vetted repeatedly in military entrance requirements, demanding and specialized training, and in the harsh environments of military service around the globe," he says. "They fully understand responsibility, accountability, teamwork, job mastery and safety."