Railroads hiring many veterans

By Josh Funk

Associated Press

Published: Friday, May 10 2013 7:43 p.m. MDT

"For the most part, if the military has it, so does the railroad," said Wesley, who served in the Army himself for 22 years before joining BNSF in 2007.

Railroads pursue veterans by attending dozens of job fairs every year, employing recruiters who are veterans and offering classes for veterans to help them apply for civilian jobs.

When she was leaving the Navy in 1998, Sandy Suver was contacted by a recruiter because the railroad industry had figured out that air traffic controllers tend to make good train dispatchers.

Working at the railroad, she said, has always helped her feel like part of a team, and her contributions mattered — much like when she was in the military.

"It's a proud company with a proud heritage — very similar to the military," Suver said. "The similarities are uncanny sometimes."

Suver and her brother both interviewed with UP around the same time and got job offers. Later her husband also went to work for the railroad after his active-duty military career ended. But he joined the Army reserves just before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to complete his 20 years of military service and was promptly deployed.

The railroad took such good care of Suver and her family during that deployment that she says it's unlikely she'll ever leave UP. The railroad maintained her husband's life and health insurance and covered the difference between National Guard pay and his railroad salary so he wouldn't take a pay cut while deployed.

"UP took care of me and my family while my husband was gone," Suver said. "It just made a huge impression on me."

That's part of why Suver has become an unofficial railroad recruiter herself by talking about 15 other former Navy co-workers into joining Union Pacific.

Suver said the military is structured for safety and so is the railroad, which helped with her transition to a civilian job.

"That structure is very comfortable for someone who grew up in the military," she said.

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