Guest Blog: Veteran Helping Veterans Get Solar Job Training

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November 13, 2017
GRID Veterans Liason Jennifer Watkins (far left), alongside three US military veteran volunteers and GRID Solar Installation Supervisor Andrew Hayes hold a GRID Alternatives Troops to Solar banner with the solar panel system they just

Jennifer Watkins served for five years in the US Army. Today, she is serving her home community as GRID’s Bay Area Veteran Liaison Intern, and creating opportunities for more veterans to get hands-on solar training. 

My name is Jennifer Watkins. I am a disabled US Army veteran and served five years on active duty. While on active duty, I worked as a 68D (Operating Room Specialist) at a Level II trauma hospital in Washington State. I assisted in various surgeries and went on two different humanitarian missions to Dominican Republic and Tanzania.

After the military, I moved back home to the Bay Area and decided to return to school. I am currently working on my B.A. in Environmental Studies with an emphasis in Environmental Sustainability & Social Justice. Completing an internship is required for my degree, and that is how I found out about GRID Alternatives. After applying to multiple companies’ internship programs, GRID was one of three that requested an interview with me. Although I was offered a position at all three, GRID felt like the best fit.

In addition to an internship with the GRID Alternatives Outreach team this summer, I started working as a Veteran Liaison Intern for GRID Alternatives a few weeks ago. In addition to an internship with the GRID Alternatives Outreach team this summer, I started working as a Veteran Liaison Intern for GRID Alternatives a few weeks ago. My first project was to recruit veterans for a Veterans Day Install in Richmond, which occurred this past Saturday November 11th. The installation event went really well. The participants and I not only learned a lot about the installation process but had fun as well.

As a part of my internship, I am also planning future veterans’ engagement opportunities. Getting the chance to work at GRID, and being welcomed back for my current internship, has been an awesome experience. As someone transitioning out of the medical field, I had gotten used to the petty drama and politics of the hospital environment. GRID is a refreshing change. Everyone I’ve met has been very nice and willing to help and answer any questions I’ve had. I have never experienced such a positive workplace. I am thankful for this opportunity to get a peek into the non-profit sector and to be a part of the social justice movement GRID has created.  

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GRID’s Troops to Solar Initiative supports a major solar industry initiative announced earlier this year to employ 50,000 veterans in the solar workforce by 2020. Special thanks to Wells Fargo for supporting our Trooops to Solar initiative. If you are interested in learning more, email trainingba@gridalternatives.org. You can also view photos from the Veterans Day install Jennifer coordinated on Flickr by clicking here.