The commercial nuclear industry has historically provided a pathway to employment for those who have served, specifically veterans of the U.S. Navy. In fact, veterans make up 21 percent of the nuclear utility workforce.
“The military gives you a lot of responsibility at an early age whether you’re in the nuclear navy or you’re in one of the other branches of the service,” explains John Broschak, vice president of generation operations at Consumers Energy in Michigan. “That leadership experience and level of responsibility is what energy companies are looking for to attract the best talent.”
Broschak’s experience serving six years in the Navy made him a natural fit for his first job in the commercial nuclear industry at the Palisades Nuclear Power Station in Covert, Michigan. Today, he oversees operations for Consumers Energy’s portfolio of generation assets. As a leader, Broschak seeks to fill the talent pipeline at Consumers with a wide array of candidates, including those with military backgrounds.
To be able to enhance the veteran community within our industry has been very personally rewarding to me and I hope I continue to drive our support for the veteran community in nuclear and other parts of the energy industry as we go forward.
— JOHN BROSCHAK, VICE PRESIDENT OF GENERATION OPERATIONS, CONSUMERS ENERGY
While working with human resources professionals to identify veterans within the company, Broschak learned that the transition for many was not as smooth as his own. He discovered that veterans make up about 15 to 20 percent of the workforce at Consumers, yet most had neglected to mention their service on job applications. Broschak dug deeper to understand why these veterans did not seem to share his sense of pride in military service, especially those who served overseas in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“There was this perception that veterans are damaged goods and that many of them had been in traumatic experiences overseas and they didn’t want that to show up on their resume fearing that someone will discount them because of their experience,” he says.
Broschak wanted all veterans employed at Consumers to feel supported and honored for their service. So, he embarked on an effort to connect them, establishing the Veteran’s Advisory Panel (VAP) Employee Resources Group.
Started in 2015, VAP has expanded to become the fastest growing employee groups at the company. More than just a way to connect veterans, it provides opportunities for members to continue serving others through volunteerism while cultivating their professional growth.
“It’s another leadership development role,” Broschak explains. “We make sure the goals and objectives are defined, measurable and tie back to business goals. It really enhances not only their connection to the company but ways they can contribute.”
Inspired by the members of VAP, Broschak sought out a platform to share their success stories and bring the lessons learned at Consumers to the national level. He found it in Veterans in Energy (VIE), a nonprofit organization that aims to provide transition, retention and professional development services to veterans working in the energy industry. Now, Broschak is a member of VIE’s board of directors, helping veterans transition out of the military and into careers in the energy industry.
“To be able to enhance the veteran community within our industry has been very personally rewarding to me and I hope I continue to drive our support for the veteran community in nuclear and other parts of the energy industry as we go forward.”
Source: Nuclear Energy Institute