When those who served our nation return home, we owe them a fair shake along with our gratitude. Events like yesterday's Military 2 Maritimeinformation and recruiting session, hosted by the American Maritime Partnership in Jacksonville, Florida, help steer our veterans toward the opportunities available in the maritime industry.
We at the Maritime Administration (MARAD) are proud to be associated with an industry that doesn't just open its doors to America's veterans, but actively helps them navigate the transition to civilian careers. Through licensing and certification information, support for maritime academies, and our work with stakeholders, MARAD is actively engaged in making this transition easier.
Many of our veterans have skills and experience that can be major assets to our nation's transportation network, and programs like Military 2 Maritime connect them with careers in the U.S. Merchant Marine. In Jacksonville yesterday, national, state, and local maritime organizations – and even MARAD Executive Director Joel Szabat – met with veterans interested in maritime careers. Attendees had the opportunity to speak with hiring, licensing and union representatives; they toured vessels; and they heard first-hand accounts from current employees and crewmembers about careers in the industry.
I can't imagine a better place to provide those veterans with an opportunity to maximize their professional strengths than in our nation's dynamic and evolving maritime industry. By the same token, the folks in the maritime industry welcome the opportunity to help some of those veterans find a professional home. As Margaret Reasoner, Director of Marine Personnel for Crowley Maritime, said, "Our industry needs the talent and expertise that current and former members of the armed forces have to fill open positions."
Connecting a talented pool of job-seekers with a growing industry just makes sense. The maritime industry knows it, and veterans do too. Vick Andre Anthony Atkinson, a 12-year naval veteran and graduate of the Seafarers International Union's Paul Hall Center for Maritime Training and Education, cited his mariner training, certification, and ultimate transition into the U.S. Merchant Marine as "a continuation of my naval career."
I heartily second that. As a former naval officer myself, I feel privileged that my current position in the Maritime Administration allows me to serve those I served with.
For nearly 250 years, America's merchant mariners have been a source of security and prosperity. As we have grown from a fledgling nation into the world's greatest economy, our mariners have been there every step of the way. And I can't think of a more qualified group of applicants than today's veterans to continue powering the transportation that drives our economy forward.