Union Pacific's deep military history came full circle Friday.
The Omaha-based railroad, which was built and designed with the help of Civil War veterans, offered a Veterans Day thank you with a $60,000 donation to the Wounded Warrior Project, a national organization that serves military members who were injured on or after 9/11.
“We are extremely honored to contribute to Wounded Warrior Project, whose vision is to foster our nation's most successful, well-adjusted generation of wounded service members,” said U.P. President and CEO Jack Koraleski.
The donation is the railroad's proceeds from a one-time federal incentive program for hiring vets meeting certain criteria. That's something Teresa Nichols, the major gifts manager for the Wounded Warrior Project, hasn't seen before.
“It's really a testament to employing veterans and an absolute commitment to them,” she said.
U.P.'s history with veterans includes granting thousands of railroad employees indefinite leaves of absence with pay while they served in World War I. During World War II, the railroad donated a renovated passenger terminal so soldiers arriving home could enjoy meals made at the historic North Platte, Neb., canteen.
Today, more than 20 percent of U.P.'s workforce members are veterans, with the company hiring about 800 veterans this year alone.
Koraleski called them “ideal candidates for the railroad” because of their skills, training and productivity. The company's strong veteran presence has developed into UPVETS, a support group that works to attract, develop and retain employees who are veterans.
UPVETS chose the Wounded Warrior Project for the donation.
“It's really cool for a large company to invest in what's important to its employees,” Koraleski said.
In other recognitions linked to this weekend's Veterans Day:
» Sarpy County-based Werner Enterprises held a ceremony Friday for its military veterans, which account for about 20 percent of the company's workforce. The company has the “Remember the Fallen” exhibit on display, which features photographs of men and women from Nebraska and western Iowa who died while serving in Afghanistan and Iraq.
» G.I. Jobs magazine released its top 100 military-friendly employers list, naming 32 companies in Nebraska and 26 companies in Iowa to the list.
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