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A Marine combat veteran with two Iraq tours and a history of training fellow Marines in martial arts and on the firing range is leading a squad of vets in a new kind of security mission.

On the border of California and Nevada, Par Electrical Contractors is completing new transmission projects that will enable Southern California Edison to provide renewable energy in an ambitious solar projects.

In addition to all of the normal challenges to major construction, the contractors’ army of vehicles face a special threat.  The desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) is on the Endangered Species Act and considered “vulnerable” despite an average life span of 70 years. During the hottest part of the day, desert tortoises seek shade sometimes under parked vehicles.

If a moving vehicle kills one tortoise, the fine is in the thousands. If several are killed, fines can give way to job stoppage and the corporate losses can reach millions while the declining population of the reptiles falls further, the contractors said in a press release.

Par turned to M.A. Steiner Construction, a former U.S. Army Ranger’s small business.

The Steiner firm is providing Par with a unique 45 person Environmental Security Team at the Edison construction site and their mission includes protecting the tortoise population. Half of the team are veterans including women and some disabled from combat in Iraq and Afghanistan and members of local National Guard units, according to the press release.

“Hiring veterans is both the right thing to do after they have served their country and the smart thing to do because they bring discipline, professionalism and reliability to their work,” said Steve Adams , West Coast vice president of Par Electric Contractors.

As for Marine veteran Bryan Marshall, the team leader whose resume includes Small Arms Weapons Instructor and Advanced Combat Skills, he has added Site Supervisor, Environmental Security Division M.A. Steiner Construction.

Together, we all can help put veterans to work.

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