Freight railroads have a long history that extends over a century of working directly with the armed services to connect servicemen and women with railroad jobs. There is an attitude and skill set for railroad employees that overlaps greatly with those of military service men and women, regardless of their level of higher education. These skill sets range from inherent leadership capabilities and strategic thinking qualities to the more technical skills that engineers, conductors and dispatchers need to keep our railroads cost-effective, cutting-edge and safe.

That is why the freight rail industry has historically maintained close ties with the military and engaged in programs that identify talented service men and women and work with the armed forces to transition from military service to private sector railroad employment.

And that commitment will not stop anytime soon. The freight rail industry is the backbone of our nation’s economy and a driver of our economic recovery. As demand increases, we need even more employees to help keep our wheels turning. For this reason, the industry this year is expected to hire approximately 15,000 employees, providing a boost not only to prospective workers, but also to all of the businesses and consumers who depend on freight rail to deliver the things they need.

Thousands of these jobs will go to members of the military, who are particularly qualified for the freight rail industry’s challenges. With average annual salary and benefit packages more than 40 percent higher than the average for other industries, veterans who join the freight rail industry can expect a well-paid job—and one that can never be shipped overseas.

As we pay tribute to our nation’s veterans this holiday, let us look beyond just one day of recognition.  As our veterans serve our country every day, so too should we continue to provide opportunities for our men and women in uniform all year round. Freight rail has been making this commitment to service men and women for over a century, and we are proud to be able to continue hiring our nation’s veterans at a robust pace this year, and in years to come.

Edward R. Hamberger is the President and CEO of Association of American Railroads