INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - As the IndyCar season kicks off this weekend in St. Petersburg, Fla., one local racing team is teaming up with the White House.
In a story you will see only on 24-Hour News 8, we have first details of IndyCar and Panther Racing getting soldiers back on track when they return home.
Troops deployed around the world cheer on the National Guard car of Panther Racing during the Indianapolis 500. Panther Racing owner John Barnes has worked for years for the troops. Now, Panther is expanding its efforts to make sure every service member comes home to a job.
"It's an opportunity to make a difference and stand up for those who have made a difference for us," Barnes said.
Panther has teamed up with the White House and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce through two initiatives called Hiring Our Heroes and Joining Forces. Panther is hosting local employers at each of the Indycar races, including this weekend in St. Petersburg. CEOs with real jobs available now meet with soldiers.
"For us, rather than representing a product, we represent a group of people," Panther driver JR Hildebrand said.
Barnes hires soldiers because, he said, they understand pressure, responsibility and teamwork.
"You get someone drug-free, you get someone who understands the mission is to do with what you have, not what you want," he said. "You understand how to deal with adversity and get the mission done."
Panther has hired four National Guard soldiers, including Chris McFadden, who will now handle the pressure, not in combat, but over the wall on race day as pit crew.
"It's neat to have that tangible connection with the guys coming back from overseas," Hildebrand said, "and I know he is really proud to represent those guys and the types of opportunities they could have when they come back."
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"There are 6,000 who didn't come home, tens of thousands have amputations or critical injuries," Barnes said. "There are hundreds of thousands with PTSD or TBI, and there are a million of them unemployed. So we really haven't done much."
Fifty CEOs will be at each job fair, where they will work one on one with soldiers to find jobs. A few weeks ago in Tampa, more than 30 soldiers walked out with new jobs.
We will keep you posted on details on the job fair here in Indianapolis.
6:15 P.M. UPDATE: Indiana State Police dispatch says they have a dozen units working various slide offs on Interstate 65 - north and south - south of mile marker 100 and north of mile marker 80. They say the roads are covered with snow.
The snow hit the pavement sporadically in Greenwood Thursday night and Friday.
Animal lovers at IU Health downtown came to a cat's rescue.