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First Solar Ready Vets Graduate At Hill Air Force Base

Brian Grimmett
Master Sergeant Robert Hollenbaugh receives his cetificate from U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall

A group of veterans at Hill Air Force Base has become the first to graduate from a new Department of Energy job training program. KUER’s Brian Grimmett reports.

A year ago President Barack Obama visited Hill Air Force base to announce the launch of the Solar Ready Vets program. And Friday, the first group of participants to complete the course walked across the stage and received their industry certificates.

“It was a great course. It was tough at times, but the way that it was taught it was very beneficial to me and a lot of my classmates.”

That’s Senior Airman Clarence Gleton. He gets out of the Air Force in August and says he hopes to use the certificate as a springboard to a career.

“I did it because I thought it would be a great opportunity, especially to be one of the first to go through the class. I’m looking for something better outside of the military.”

Dr. Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall is the Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy. She says one of the main goals of the Solar Ready Vets program is to help veterans get the skills necessary to, in some ways, continue their service after leaving the military.

“The opportunity to work in the clean energy sector, in the solar industry, enables them to make contributions to our country’s strength," she says. "Both to its economic strength, the jobs and growth in our economy, and also to our resilience as a nation. So that we can ensure we have the energy supply that we need to power our future.”

The eight-week intensive program was administered by Salt Lake Community College. It gave the students hands-on training in solar systems management and installation. The Department of Energy, the Department of Defense and SLCC will now evaluate what they learned from the first course as they implement the program at other military bases across the country. 

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