Now the Sierra Club’s Conservation Finance & Operations Manager, Washkevich learned from her military training what it meant to “defend and protect,” giving her skills that she now applies in the environmental arena. “I think I’m like a lot of veterans in being ‘mission focused,’” she says. “I’m not driven by money; I’m driven by a mission.
“Lots of veterans are looking for more than just a job once they get out of the military. They want to be part of something bigger than themselves, and the green economy presents the same sort of opportunity for veterans to work in a field with a mission, to help families save money, helpstop pollution and hazards from coal and oil, protect our environment, and reduce security issues associated with energy.”
The Veteran’s Day installation of the solar electric system on the San Francisco home was overseen by professional staff from GRID Alternatives, and the seven veterans who participated were all enrolled in Swords to Plowshares’ green jobs training program.
The vets installed 6 photovoltaic solar modules that will generate 1.2 kilowatts of clean, renewable power and reduce the family’s monthly electricity bill by 75 percent. Over its lifetime, the system is expected to generate over 67,000 kilowatts of energy, saving the family more than $11,000 and eliminating 38 tons of greenhouse gas emissions in the process.
Washkevich and fellow fundraiser Wiechowski met at their first civilian job, where they started talking about what they could do to help other vets who were transitioning to civilian life. “We wanted to bring together Bay Area veterans, help build a support network, and give back to our fellow brothers and sisters who served,” Washkevich says.
The two met with Ian Thomson and formulated a plan to raise money for the Veteran’s Day solar panel installation, bringing Swords to Plowshares onboard to help identify vets in need of skilled job training. “It was really just us wanting to give back to vets in need on Veteran’s Day,” Washkevich says. “We were blown away by all the support we got, and we hope to do something even bigger next year!”
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