253-967-0319  c2c@pacmtn.org

“Military to utilities. Transitioning to a post-military life in the utilities field”

Northwest Military – Home of The Ranger, NW Airlifter & Weekly Volcano

When Miles Joseph Barretta wakes up and gets ready for work, he doesn’t put on the standard active-duty Army uniform of BDUs and combat boots; his boots are utilitarian and steel-toed, but take him to a classroom at the south campus of Bates Technical College. And while his battle buddies do all the standard day-to-day work called of them in the 110th Chemical Battalion (Tech Escort,) Barretta is learning lessons in forklift driving and a multitude of other utilities-specific skills he will be using in his new calling as a civilian employee of Pacific Gas and Electric.
Barretta is one of 16 close to separation, active-duty military servicemen (15 soldiers, one airman) taking part in this pilot program, a unique arm of PowerPathways developed by PG&E. The program was launched in California in 2008 as a way to train and develop the next generation of utility workers. This program has seen the successful enrollment, completion, and hiring of a large number of veterans.

To make the PowerPathways program work in Washington state, a partnership between PG&E, Bates Technical College, and Camo2Commerce was forged. But more key players lie just under the surface, with multiple key players also taking key roles in the process. Local utility partners took part in the experiential learning process of the cohort, and the PowerPathways cohort were fully funded by a federal grant from Camo2Commerce, which is a program of the Pacific Mountain Workforce Development Council.

Robert Comer, Project Coordinator with the Camo2Commerce program, has been working with participants of the program, sees the program as a “perfect marriage” between transitioning military servicemembers, colleges and the community. “It’s a winning combination; it just makes sense.”

As for Barretta, he sees the program and its outcome as a boon. Even before graduation, he has been offered, and accepted a position in his home state of California. It’s a welcome relief after what he says has been an “extremely stressful” period of time. He signs out for terminal leave April 26; he enters his new job May 9. He doesn’t worry about a lack of vacation time during his terminal leave period, stating, “I’ve got a family to support.” (Barretta has a wife and two children, ages 3 and 5.)

With Barretta in the PowerPathways cohort, with interviews pending for a job in California, is Joko Riley from the 864th Engineering Battalion. Though, PG&E has signed on to hire eight of the participants, skills and certifications received from this course will be universal, so those who would rather stay local can apply with local utilities, as well. For Riley, whose wife is from California, the move would be a welcome change, but one he hopes will be permanent after a career that entailed moving his wife and two kids, 14 and 11, every three years. “My goal is to be planted; to grow stability.”


Military to Utilities

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