When US Army Major Renee Marie first stepped onto the GRID Alternatives women veterans’ Sacramento installation jobsite in July, the morning seemed to grow even brighter with her enthusiastic smile. This current service member and combat veteran, who has served in the Army since 1983 and worked as a medical company commander in Afghanistan, is a patriot, global citizen, environmentalist and advocate for inner and outer peace. When she heard about GRID Alternatives, she immediately recognized how our mission resonates with hers. “I have always understood that peace is a verb. It’s a doing thing. Peace is a matter of social justice and social equity. If everyone has access to food, water, and renewable energy, I feel that it puts us on a level playing field.”
GRID Alternatives’ Troops to Solar program creates a platform for military members to leverage the skills and passion they develop in military service toward multi-faceted service in their local communities and, in some cases, toward job training in the booming solar industry. The transition to civilian life after military service has been difficult for some, but some of GRID Alternatives’ Troops to Solar veteran volunteers have suggested that this can be related to a sense that, where a veteran once served a mission that is greater than herself in the military, there can seem to be a lack of that same kind of opportunity reflected in civilian life.
Renee addresses the opportunity that working for environmental justice provides and how this opportunity can mesh with a career in military service. “I have always believed in service above self. The deployment of service members is one of peace through readiness and peace through service. After my combat mission, I was still looking to connect and to have that camaraderie and give in service above myself, to something greater, for the greater good. Fossil fuels are a magnet for competition and the economic disparity, whereas the sun, water and wind can be accessible to all of us so that it’s not a matter of economic ability. Clean energy is a fair and equitable alternative to fossil fuels, and I love that.”
She is a great example of a community member connecting her sense of purpose to the community matrix of connection that GRID Alternatives creates. She too is a hub for connection around holistic values. Major Marie too is the founder and director of The Peace Pole Garden Project, a Sacramento-based advocacy group that organizes peace pole plantings in schools and other community centers as focal points for the message “May Peace Prevail on Earth”.