While serving in the US Army 82nd Airborne Division, Desmine Greene became an expert in logistics management and field operations. In his transition out of the military in 2021, he secured a job placement as a fellow under the IREC-led Solar Ready Vets Network™, helping to launch and lead a new Richmond, Virginia branch of Standard Energy Solutions.  

Greene’s experience coordinating and ensuring personnel and operational readiness has proved highly transferable to managing inventory, tracking project completion, and leading a cohesive and highly effective team. As he explains: “They were looking for somebody that had done the same thing I did in the military: running a warehouse, managing operations, and things of that nature.”

Veterans like Greene make up 8% of the nation’s growing solar energy workforce, compared to only 6% of the overall workforce, according to IREC’s National Solar Jobs Census. With strong leadership, teamwork, and critical thinking skills, a purpose-driven outlook, and a mission-completion work ethic, the aptitudes and experiences gained through military service make veterans outstanding candidates for a wide range of solar careers.   

With funding from the U.S. Department of Energy, the Solar Ready Vets Network connects military talent with solar training and career pathways. In partnership with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes program and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), the Solar Ready Vets Fellowship connects active duty service members with on-the-job experience in leadership roles in the solar industry. The fellowship allows solar employers to capture the best and brightest military talent as they’re exploring civilian career options. 

The Solar Ready Vets Fellowship is implemented through the Hiring Our Heroes Corporate Fellowship Program. This innovative program provides transitioning service members with 12 weeks of on-the-job work experience with a potential employer, supporting a smooth transition to meaningful careers in high-demand sectors. Through an interview process, candidates are matched with participating companies based on their knowledge, skills, and interests, for roles where the company has an open requisition. 

Fellows receive high-touch professional development support from Hiring Our Heroes throughout the 12 weeks. This program is offered to employers at no cost—fellows are still on active duty and receive their military salaries and benefits while participating in the program. The majority are offered full-time employment with their host company at the end of the program. 

The solar industry offers a highly collaborative and mission-driven environment that resonates with service members looking to rise to their next challenge. In the last three years, the Solar Ready Vets team has placed close to 80 fellows with solar employers, ranging from small start-ups to major national companies in roles spanning operations and logistics, asset management, project management, business development, policy/government relations, communications, talent acquisition, and more. 

Over the course of her 26-year career in the U.S. Air Force, Jacqueline Sukhlall gained extensive leadership experience across administrative and business operations, as well as an ability to communicate with diverse audiences and build effective teams. Transitioning to the civilian workforce, she sought a dynamic and challenging role aligned with these skill sets, with particular interest in meaningful opportunities to contribute toward a bigger purpose. In 2022, she became a Solar Ready Vets Fellow and launched her solar career at GreenPowerMonitor, where she now serves as a Business Development Manager.

“It was an eye-opening experience to see just how much the rapidly evolving clean energy industry has to offer,” Sukhlall says. “Serving in the military is a great way to be part of something bigger, and you get a similar feeling working in renewables, walking away from work each day feeling like you’re making a difference to be felt for generations to come. It’s a rewarding and exciting industry to be a part of.”

Brian Desmond, Director of Operations at Standard Energy Solutions, offers an employer’s perspective: “The level of candidates from Hiring Our Heroes was exceptional. All the candidates we met were highly professional individuals, each offering a wide range of experience leading teams to accomplish a goal/mission.”

Additional “service to solar” stories featuring past fellows are available on the Solar Ready Vets website.

Ready to host a Solar Ready Vets Fellow? Visit our website and check out a webinar to learn more. Please reach out to [email protected] and express interest by February 16, 2023 to receive resumes for the spring cohort that begins on May 1.