|PowerRail supervisors receive the Patriot Award for their support of employees who are members of the National Guard or reserves.
|Representatives from Watco speak with military service members at recruiting events at Fort Stewart in Georgia (left) and Fort Campbell in Kentucky (right).
ASLRRA members have long worked to support U.S. service members, in part by recruiting and hiring veterans, and also through community outreach, donations and volunteer work.
“Veterans have traditionally been an excellent fit for our industry. They bring significant skills, a commitment to safety and mission, and valuable experience to the railroad industry,” said ASLRRA President Chuck Baker. “Our association’s members recognize that value, and many of our members’ efforts go far beyond recruiting. Bringing veterans into the short line environment is a win-win-win-win for the employee, the railroad, the industry, and the country.”
To bring these stories to a wider audience, ASLRRA is featuring the finalists for the Association’s Veterans Engagement Award, who have made notable efforts to engage with veterans in the workplace and community throughout the year.
Still, these stories describe only a fraction of the efforts of ASLRRA members to recruit, hire, retain and support those in the military. The Association is proud to highlight the work of its members.
CSS engages veterans and military members in a variety of ways, including through recruitment efforts, hiring and in company practices. CSS works with the veteran representative at local Indiana employment offices and makes sure to encourage veterans to apply for open positions at the company.
In 2022, 18 percent of all CSS hires were veterans, and CSS made charitable donations to the Gary Sinise Foundation, the Wounded Warrior Project and Homes for our Troops. In addition, the railroad honors military-affiliated employees with a Veterans Day luncheon every year. CSS also displays a logo in support of service members on all its locomotives.
Genesee & Wyoming Inc. (G&W) takes great strides to mentor and recruit military members. Last year G&W posted 939 jobs on 10 different military- and veteran-focused job boards. The organization also has engaged HireMilitary, a staffing service for transitioning military members, spouses and veterans.
G&W is also a member of the American Corporate Partners (ACP) network, a nonprofit helping ease the military-civilian workplace transition. This partnership provides several ways for G&W to engage the military community. G&W posts jobs on ACP’s job board and has presented virtual events to military members to talk about careers at the company. G&W has even participated in an event hosted by ACP that shared best practices for hiring and retaining veterans and military spouses, and more than 69 G&W employees have served as volunteer mentors in ACP’s Veteran Mentorship Program. As a result of these efforts, G&W hired 112 veterans in 2022, comprising 14 percent of all new hires that year.
To support veteran organizations, G&W has made several charitable donations to nonprofits like Veterans Outreach Center, Inc., Disabled American Veterans, and the Wounded Warrior Project.
LIRC takes steps to encourage military veterans and those transitioning from active duty to join the company. This includes posting open positions on the G.I. Jobs website and keeping engaged with the veteran representative at the local Indiana employment office. Representatives from the employment office also visited LIRC headquarters for a meeting and tour.
In 2022, two of LIRC’s seven new hires were military veterans, and that year the company promoted a Marine Corps veteran from train service to management. The railroad recognizes veterans in its internal newsletter and displays a veteran-themed logo on its locomotives.
LIRC and its employees also actively support veterans organizations in the community. One way is by sponsoring the local USO golf scramble. Another is through LIRC’s annual service project at the Kentucky-Indiana Chapter of Paralyzed Veterans of America (KIPVA) facility. Every year LIRC employees help with different cleanup and remodeling projects and in 2022 they installed new KIPVA signs, did some landscaping and replaced all the exterior lighting with new LED lighting. Beyond helping with physical projects, LIRC makes charitable donations to KIPVA as well.
NYA supports veterans inside the organization and out. Military veterans comprise 12 percent of NYA’s workforce, and the railroad honors those individuals with a Veterans Day lunch and paid day off each year. Last year, NYA also gave its military veteran employees movie passes for them and their families.
Outside organizations also benefit from NYA’s support. Fisher House, Island Harvest, the United Veterans Beacon House and the local Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) chapter all receive contributions from NYA.
To recruit veterans, NYA works closely with the veteran representative at the Workforce1 Career Center in Queens. NYA also works with other employment offices in Queens to maximize veteran candidates.
PowerRail’s veteran and active duty employees comprise nearly 12 percent of the company’s total workforce and represent every branch of the Armed Forces except the Space Force. Two PowerRail employees are also current members of the National Guard. In recognition of their policies supporting their National Guard employees, PowerRail has received the Patriotic Employer Award from the Employer Support for the Guard and Reserve organization, and PowerRail Distribution received the Seven Seals Award for its work on behalf of active-duty service members.
As a recruitment tool, PowerRail has participated in a virtual employer seminar hosted by Pennsylvania CareerLink at Luzerne County. PowerRail’s Tom Casper spoke about working at the company and the benefits available to veterans.
At PowerRail headquarters, the company is creating a veterans wall to highlight the company’s service member employees. Powerrail has also held fundraising events on behalf of Veteran’s Promise, a nonprofit organization in Pennsylvania that helps veterans and their families.
In 2022, Watco established an entirely new program, Military Outreach and Hire, that connects transitioning active-duty military members, National Guard members and reservists with career opportunities at Watco. The company also supports veteran-owned small businesses that that help service members find post-service employment and make a smooth transition between careers.
Watco’s veteran recruiting efforts also include visits to military installations from the East Coast to the Midwest for hiring events, with plans to expand these visits to places further west. Overall, the company supported 28 different veteran hiring events last year. Watco also guarantees soldiers a job interview as a corporate partner of the Army’s Partnership for Your Success (PaYs) program. Online, a career webpage for veterans enables service members to learn about working at Watco from fellow veterans who are current Watco employees.
To bridge the gap between active duty and private employment, Watco’s military-veteran recruiter not only works to bring in these employees but helps support those who are moving from one role to the next. Watco’s Army-approved Career Skills Program provides internships to soldiers looking to acquire industry skills and the company is working toward becoming a member of the Department of Defense (DOD) SkillBridge program, again providing internship opportunities to transitioning service members.
Watco recognizes its military-affiliated employees in the November issue of its monthly newsletter. The company has also donated thousands of dollars to nonprofit organizations that support the military and last year donated proceeds from its annual Independence Day t-shirt sale to USA Cares, which supports post-9/11 military veterans, service members and their families.