Thursday, April 25, 2024

Dedication to service and support

Staff Writer | December 15, 2020 1:00 AM

HAUSER — The BNSF Hauser Fueling Depot in Rathdrum received national recognition last week for its support and employment of U.S. military personnel through the Department of Defense Seven Seals Award.

Since 2005, BNSF has hired more than 6,000 U.S. military veterans and active service soldiers.

The Seven Seals Award, which the Hauser Fueling Depot received through the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), recognized the station's longtime personal and professional backing. The Seven Seals Award is the broadest and most inclusive award given by ESGR, said BNSF Railway's senior director of external communications, Courtney Wallace.

"Railroad and military service industries have gone hand in hand since the start," Wallace said. "When veterans and active servicemen and women come back into the workforce, their ethics and values of hard work in the field resonate with BNSF."

Part of the reason Wallace says the two industries have intertwined is due to the emphasis on safety on the job. In Hauser, there are at least a dozen veterans or active military workers at the facility. Wallace said the work of those individuals and the opportunities the company offers, and their fundraising efforts were the reason for the award.

"This award is presented to employers who go above and beyond," she said. "At Hauser, we have a proactive hiring program that actively seeks candidates with military experience and resources to help them transition back to civilian lives."

Knowing the challenges servicemen and women have with reintegration, Wallace said the Hauser Fueling Depot and BNSF have cultivated programs like mentoring, leadership development, and peer support to offset personal struggles. One of the programs is make-whole pay for active soldiers who may be enlisted to serve while working.

"We make sure that we support their family," Wallace said. "When they are called to service, we take care of special needs they may have while they are away."

Last year the Hauser Fueling Depot participated in BNSF's Holiday Express event, inviting many of the station's military families for a ride on 15 restored vintage rail cars decked out for the holidays.

The Hauser team has participated in other fundraisers, including Toys for Tots, the Wounded Warrior Project, Military Miles marathons, the BNSF Railway Foundation, donations to the United Service Organizations, and delivering recognition flags to military families. Last year the Hauser Fueling Depot donated to Newby-ginnings of North Idaho and the Idaho National Guard and Reserve Family Support Fund.

"It's incredible talking with so many veterans and service members who work for the railroad," Wallace said. "The employees' dedication to service and safety have made a good marriage of the two industries because they have that ethos that combines them."