Military Appreciation Month is celebrated each May, recognizing the sacrifice our men and women in uniform, and our veterans, have made for our freedom. I Make America, AEM’s grassroots initiative, wanted to take the time to celebrate the men and women working at AEM’s member companies who have bravely fought for our country and the freedoms we cherish today. Throughout the month of May, I Make America has highlighted several military heroes in the equipment manufacturing industry on social media. We would like to extend our appreciation to the following companies and employees for participating in this month-long campaign and allowing us to highlight and celebrate their employees. 


  • Casey Dailey, U.S. Army 
  • Robert James, U.S. Army 

Astec Industries 

  • Blake Achenbach, U.S. Marine Corps 
  • Justin Miller, U.S. Marine Corps
  • Cole Roberts, U.S. Marine Corps
  • William Wallerstedt, Illinois National Guard 

Kuhn North America 

  • Austin Gruber, U.S. Army 
  • Luke Norton, U.S. Army 


  • Derek Curl, U.S. Coast Guard 
  • Vicki White, U.S. Army 

Superior Industries 

  • Billy Bearson, U.S. Army 


  • Brandon Fowler, U.S. Marine Corps 
  • Kenny Compton, U.S. Army 
  • Rebecca Abel, U.S. Navy 

It is critical that we support those who have served our nation, and the equipment manufacturing industry is committed to doing just that. This industry has a long-standing history of supporting veterans, helping them transition to civilian life by offering multiple post-service employment programs. Veterans are a fantastic talent pool to connect with, as a steady flow of service members leave their branches annually. About a third of veterans are looking to return home, and a third are looking to stay near to their last base – leaving a third looking for their next opportunity and location.  

There are several ways that employers can get connected to assist veterans through employment opportunities: 

Connecting with the Department of Defense’s SkillBridge program can be a valuable tool for employers and service members. The benefits of the program include: 

  • Allowing industry partners to access and leverage the world’s most highly trained and motivated workforce at no cost 
  • Helping recent veterans access training programs and employment opportunities 
  • Service members participating in SkillBridge receive their military compensation and benefits. In addition, industry partners provide training and work experience.  

The Heroes MAKE America program, created by the Manufacturing Institute, facilitates introductions and supports a community of veterans to ease the transition from active duty to a career in the manufacturing industry. Their Department of Defense-approved SkillBridge training program provides multiple courses including: 

  • Certified Production Technician (CPT) 
  • OSHA 10 
  • Forklift Operation 
  • Mechatronics
  • Certified Logistics Technician (CLT) 

Participants earn the industry-specific skills, certifications and connections necessary to establish a fulfilling career in manufacturing. Employers that partner with this program can additionally access case studies and online courses to ensure that they have the resources and training they need to recruit, hire and retain the talent from the military community. 

It is important to recognize those who serve our country, and to help them integrate back into civilian life when they conclude their military service. As we celebrate and honor our nation’s military in the month of May, it is key that employers think on ways that their organizations can support America’s veteran community and help them to transition back into civilian life.  

For more information about diversifying your talent pool to include veterans and other communities, reach out to AEM’s Julie Davis at

For more AEM news and updates, subscribe to the AEM Industry Advisor.