On Veterans Day, we at SolarCity are thinking about all of the nation’s service people, but at the forefront of our minds are the more than 100 veterans who work with us every day, and also the families at military bases around the country who benefit from our SolarStrong initiative.
“For me, the transition from active duty service to being a part of SolarCity has been great,” says Petty Officer Jason Weeks of the US Navy, now a Field Energy Advisor. “While service in support of war will always be debated as a controversial topic, I’m proud to say that our armed forces are doing much more than just fighting the elusive enemy we now call “terrorism.”
“For example, the most rewarding experience for me during a 5-year active duty stint had nothing to do with war. On March 11, 2011 I was with my F/A-18 hornet squadron onboard the USS Ronald Reagan in the middle of the Pacific. That day, disaster struck in Japan. As we all know, a huge earthquake caused a deadly tsunami which in turn ruined thousands of homes and lives in Japan. We had been at sea well over a month, working very hard to prepare our jets to head into the Arabian Gulf and participate in Operation Enduring Freedom. The captain’s voice came through the intercom throughout the entire ship. He informed us of the situation in Japan, and that our plans had changed. Cancelling our port visit in South Korea, we altered course and headed straight for Japan.
“This experience actually spawned some of my first thoughts on alternative energy sources. Because the Fukushima nuclear plant had had a total meltdown, the area in which we operated was considered an unsafe radioactive plume. Every time we had to perform duties up on the flight deck, open to the air, we were required to wear gas masks and layers of protective clothing. Upon returning below deck, we were scrubbed free of all radioactive material to which we’d been exposed. For over a month, the USS Ronald Reagan performed search and rescue missions and airlifted ton after ton of food, water and supplies to our Japanese allies who had lost everything. The crew was asked to donate any extra blankets we could spare, and many of us did. Finally, after spending about 80 days at sea, working round the clock, the carrier pulled into the port of Sasebo, Japan. The people there welcomed us with open arms. It was the most rewarding experience of my life. Everywhere we walked through town, people bowed and thanked us in English for the work we had done. It was a reminder to all of us that we hadn’t just signed up to fight a war; we had signed up to serve.”