On this Veterans Day, San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) joins the nation in saluting and thanking all U.S. military veterans for their service and sacrifice in protecting our country, including approximately 350 current SDG&E employees who have served in the Armed Forces. San Diego is home to one of the largest military centers in the country, so it’s not surprising the San Diego Chamber of Commerce reports that more than 8 percent of the local labor market are veterans.
“Veterans Day serves as an important day to honor these heroes, to remember their achievements, their commitment and their bravery, and to say thank you for their sacrifices,” said Jeff Martin, chairman and chief executive officer of SDG&E. “We owe a tremendous amount of gratitude to those who demonstrate a steadfast commitment to safeguarding the principles upon which our nation was founded.”
Outreach to local vets
Over the years, SDG&E has launched several programs to seek out talented veterans and help them transition their skills from the military to a career at the utility. One example is SDG&E’s partnership with San Diego State University for the “Troops to Engineers” program at the College of Engineering, which recruits student-veterans for engineering internships and the Associate Engineer program.
Matt Belden joined the program after five years in the Navy, where he had been an electrician, completing the 8,000 hours required for the journeyman apprenticeship certification. His experience as an electrician was what prompted him to study Electrical Engineering at SDSU.
“In the Troops to Engineers program at SDSU, I was surrounded by other veterans, which was beneficial,” said Belden. After graduation, Belden was hired by SDG&E and brought in to the utility’s Associate Engineer rotation program.
“The process of moving to a new specialty every six months gave me a valuable perspective on the various elements of engineering and how to network,” said Belden. “The military also teaches you a lot about yourself and about leadership, which helped better prepare me for my role at SDG&E.”
Belden currently is an Engineer II in Electric System Planning. He points out that some of his best friends today are colleagues he met in the Troops to Engineers program.
“Military summit” at MCRD
In 2012, SDG&E hosted a military summit – or job fair – at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot (MCRD) for 450 veterans, bringing together more than 25 local employers as well as representatives from military, government and academia to offer comprehensive resources and easy access through a “one-stop shop” for transitioning veterans.
Veteran Felicia Town served in the Navy for nearly 12 years and had recently completed her MBA in Human Resources before attending the summit.
“It was a great opportunity to make contacts with a lot of big companies that were very accessible and supportive. Everyone there was engaging and informative, but something just ‘clicked’ when I talked to the HR reps from SDG&E.”
Today, Town is a training coordinator in SDG&E’s Electric Grid Operations department and attributes her success to being in the right place at the right time.
“If I hadn’t gone to that event, I’m not sure where I’d be right now,” said Town.
Community engagement with our military community
SDG&E is also proud to support active-duty members and their families, veterans, and transitioning service men and women through our Military and Veterans charitable giving area. This year, SDG&E will donate nearly a half-million dollars to 50 non-profit organizations that help military and veteran families with job training and preparation, food assistance, transitional housing and other programs.
These valuable community partners include: the Veterans Association of North County, Rosie’s Network Small Business Resource Center for Military Spouses, Armed Services & YMCA Camp Pendleton and San Diego, Workshops for Warriors, and National Veterans Transition Services – REBOOT.
SDG&E is pleased to provide these kinds of opportunities to assist our local heroes.
So, the next time you meet a veteran, take a moment to thank him or her for their service. Remember, we live in the “land of the free” because of the brave.