veterans

The White Table is a Reminder

By Amy Miller

I was already feeling a bit sentimental when I walked into work one day this week. I have a big birthday coming up, and a daughter home from freshman year in college. Flowers are revealing their spring colors and neighbors and friends are emerging from our New England winter’s WhiteTablehibernation. And so perhaps this all helps explain why I was so struck by the anguished solitude of the White Table set out in the lobby of my Boston workplace, more this year than in the past.

Every May the federal government puts out the White Table, a tribute to the men and women who have died or gone missing in service to our country. Called the Missing Man Table, or the Fallen Comrade Table, each feature of the setting – from the white table cloth to the red rose to the lone chair – carries symbolism.

The White Table, perhaps not so well known to the general public, had its origins with a group of fighter pilots who flew in Vietnam and it grew out of concern for the Vietnam POW/MIA issue. The table is only set for one person. A poster sign next to the table in the lobby of Five Post Office Square told the meaning of the different aspects of the table.

The white table cloth stands for the pure intentions of soldiers serving. The single rose in the vase represents bloodshed, and also the loved ones left behind. A slice of lemon is there to remind us of the bitter fate of soldiers and salt on the table tells us of tears shed by families.

The poster informed me that the glass was turned upside down to show that the soldier would not be returning to use the setting, and the candle sits as a ray of light in hopes that POWs or those MIA would find their way home.

Each day of our job at the EPA we work to protect the environment, and the health of the Earth’s living. It is a good day when we stop to remember the precious task at hand, the fragility of our planet and the life upon it.

So when I walked into the building where I work in Boston and saw the White Table, this stark reminder of people who gave up so much, it was in some ways a good day. For it was a chance to feel glad for life, and for the chance to make life in New England a little bit cleaner and a little bit healthier.

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Amy Miller works in the public affairs office of EPA New England and edits the EPA New England blog.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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White House Champions of Change- Veterans Advancing Clean Energy & Climate Security

By Tania Allen

This was my first time attending an event remotely close to the White House, and the fact that it was to recognize work being done by veterans was even more special for me. I was excited!

Entering the Eisenhower Executive Office Building of the White House for the “Veterans Advancing Clean Energy & Climate Security” within a few days from Veterans Day was an honor. It was a reminder of the purpose for the work I do every day, helping veterans to transition from military service into federal employment. A reminder that the experience gained during active duty is easily translatable into the civilian word and that there is lots to be gained.

The honorees included 12 veterans from different branches of the military making a difference in the areas of clean energy and climate security for future generations. The common theme had to do with decreasing our dependence on foreign sources of energy.

 One of the honorees, Captain Adam Cote, was actually calling in to the meeting from Afghanistan. The focus of his company was thermal energy and energy storage technology. This expertise is sure to impact our future generations.

The other honorees included Dave Belote, Robin Eckstein, Philip Green, Avi Jacobson, Kevin Johnson, Joseph Knott, Joseph Kopser, Nat Kreamer, Andrea Marr, Elizabeth Perez-Halperin and Drew Sloan.

The work being done by those within our Agency mirrors the commitments of these honorees. Our commitment to protecting the environment is the mission of our agency and we are fulfilling this mission by increasing our veteran hiring over the years. We have doubled our veteran hiring over the past six years and we continue to improve because we understand the value that our veterans bring to the civilian workforce.

As the honorees proved all a veteran needs is an opportunity. I believe President Barack Obama said it best, “If you can lead a platoon in a war zone, you can lead a team in the board room.”
For more information on the EPA’s Veterans Employment Program, please click HERE.

About the author: Tania Allen serves as the Veterans Employment Program Manager in the Office of Human Resources and Human Capital Management Division for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Creating a Different Perspective on Hiring a Veteran

By Tom Murray

I work with other federal and local partners in implementing an initiative called “E3: Economy, Energy and the Environment.”  Sponsored by six federal agencies and numerous state and local partners, E3 is a young and growing nationwide effort helping American manufacturers thrive both economically and sustainably.

We just launched a new page on the E3 website This launch is not, in itself, a newsworthy event.  But its topic is — the hiring of veterans and their spouses.  So why is the E3 initiative launching this page?  Well, we think we can help by looking at the issue a little differently, from a supply and demand angle.

I believe that one of the reasons veterans are not being hired at an acceptable rate is that we have been focused so intently on pushing the idea of hiring veterans that we have not concentrated enough on creating a hiring “pull” for these veterans from the manufacturing side.  Through efforts like E3 I think we can help create that “pull”.

Through E3, if we work with manufacturers to reduce the dollars they spend on managing waste, such as wasted energy, time, motion and materials, we will open up more opportunities for them to spend those dollars on plant expansions, new technologies and new hires.   We have several case studies that show this to be true.  By adding this Veterans Page to the E3 website we want to make it easier for these manufacturers to find the skilled workers they need within their local veteran communities.

Will the launch of this E3 Web page help get vets hired?  Only time will tell. But as our veterans to our country have taught us —  to realize success, all of us, myself and my other E3 colleagues at the Environmental Protection Agency, the Small Business Administration, and the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Energy, and Labor, as well as our state and local partners — — will need to work collaboratively to make it easier to hire veterans.

About the author: Tom Murray joined EPA way back in 1971 and has never lost the passion for pollution prevention and helping manufacturers become more sustainable.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.