Veterans Engagement Award

ASLRRA’s Veterans Engagement Award honors industry employers who demonstrate positive policies toward U.S. veterans and who implement unique programs and practices to hire, recognize, support, and engage with veterans in the workplace and the broader community. The award program is open to all ASLRRA railroad and supplier members, and nominations detail that ways in which the applicant company engages with veterans in the workplace and community throughout the year; highlight company programs and activities that support and recognize veterans in the workplace and in the community; and outline efforts to target veterans in company hiring practices.

Click here to learn more about the important programs and activities of ASLRRA member employers who prioritize hiring, engaging and supporting veterans in the workplace and in the community.

Veterans Engagement Award Winner: Watco

Watco's Shannon Parker

In 2023 Watco appointed Shannon Parker, a Watco pricing analyst and nine-year veteran of the Army National Guard, to a new role as the company's dedicated military and veteran recruiter.


For ASLRRA member Watco, U.S. military service members and veterans possess skills and values that resonate with the organization and its culture. Watco has demonstrated a strong commitment to hire, retain and support employees who are military servicemembers and veterans, earning the organization this year's Veterans Engagement Award.

Recognizing the connections between military members and Watco team members, leadership at the organization created a Military Outreach and Hiring Program in 2022 and added a dedicated military and veteran recruiter position in 2023. In 2023 the outreach team connected with over 1,150 veterans and separating service members at more than 75 in-person and virtual hiring events and military installation town halls across the U.S. Beyond talking with individuals about the railroad industry and job opportunities at Watco, these events covered resume writing, interview techniques, and timelines and schedules for transitioning from the military to civilian workforce.

To build direct relationships with the military, Watco has increased its work with Transition Assistance Program (TAP) offices at different military installations. In addition to working with TAP offices, Watco collaborates with state workforce agencies, job corps offices and other non-profit veteran employment organizations in its education and recruitment efforts. As a sponsored employer with the Army Career Skills Program at Fort Moore in Georgia and a host company with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes Program, Watco also welcomes service members as interns, allowing them to learn firsthand about transportation careers and the railroad industry.

Watco focuses on highlighting veteran employees throughout the year, but in particular during National Military Veterans and Families Month in November and National Hire a Veteran Day in July, highlighting them in the company newsletter and on its social media profiles. In addition, Watco has created a special challenge coin, similar to those exchanged by service members, to honor its veteran employees.

Supporting their veteran workforce goes beyond the company doors, with Watco raising money to support veterans’ organizations. Recent recipients have included the USO, USA Cares, Honor Flight and more, with Watco donating over $22,000 to date.