Corps help Wounded Warriors transition back into workforce
January 30, 2014
By Mark Rankin
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Wounded Warriors from the Operation Warfighter Program employ job internships to ease their transition from military service to civilian life.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District Operation Warfighter Program Coordinator Lynn Bradley said the district has embraced the OWF program and successfully positioned 11 interns and employed two service members from nearby Fort Campbell in 2013.
"The Corps has established a great internship program with our veterans," said Bradley "Not only in the Nashville district, but across the country other districts are contributing in the ease of their transition from military to civilian life through hands-on-experience, helping decide on their careers all while assisting them in charting a path to employment and taking care of their families."
OWF is a temporary assignment internship program developed by the Department of Defense for service members who are recovering at military bases or treatment facilities throughout the United States. The official U.S. Army program provides, assists and advocates for wounded, non-life threatening illnesses, or injured Service members with significant activity to work in an atmosphere outside of a hospital or uninspiring environment.
"This program sells itself and that's pretty awesome," said Christopher Self, regional coordinator, Operation Warfighter Program at Fort Campbell, Ky. "Being a part of the program takes stress off of an individual who has been worrying because his future is in question."
The Corps is dedicated to supporting America's Warfighters both on the front lines and after the fight. Whether wounded warriors return to duty, are released from active duty or begin civilian careers, the Corps offers a federal no-cost internship program that places service members in temporary assigned supportive work setting that positively impacts their rehabilitation, quality of life and helps ease the stress of not having a job after the military or going back to school to acquire a skill.
"I like my intern job with the Corps because it allows me to work, prove myself as reliable, show my work ethic and make some good contacts," said Army Spc. Kurt Phillip from the 1BCT 1st Brigade 132 Cavalry unit at Fort Campbell.
Phillip works as a Library assistant and has severe arthritis resulting from multiple operations in his knees which will potentially cause him to be medically discharged.
Wounded warriors interning with USACE through OWF are located at commands across USACE regions nationwide and another exceptional example is Army Spc. Charles Dearth an intern working alongside Roy Rossingnol, chief of the Small Business office.
"This program gives me confidence and inspiration to know that I can work in a civilian environment after serving in the military and I am grateful," said Dearth.
Rossingnol said he is also a military veteran and he believes that through the OWF program service members have the opportunity to gain experience and professional development required to work with federal agencies including USACE.
"The Corps family is a great place for service members to transition because of our military background and structured work environment," said Rossingnol.
As active military personnel, OWF interns are compensated by their respective service branch. The agencies with which they work gain motivated individuals who do not impact their budgets during the internships.
WHO QUALIFIES FOR THE PROGRAM
OWF places service members in temporary assigned supportive work settings that positively impact their rehabilitation. OWF Warfighter represents an opportunity for service members to augment employment readiness by building up resumes, exploring employment interests, obtaining formal and on-the-job training, and gaining valuable federal government work experience that will help prepare them for the future.
HOW AW2 WORKS
The first step in the OWF process is to meet eligibility requirements at the Warrior Transition Unit. WTUs are located at major military treatment facilities around the world and provide personal support to wounded soldiers who require at least six months of rehabilitative care and complex medical management.
Once a service member is determined to be medical ready to participate, the local OWF or Civilian Human Resources Agency coordinator works with the service member to identify and secure an opportunity that will be a good fit with his or her interests and capabilities. After a placement is confirmed, the OWF coordinator works with both the service member and the employer to obtain needed security clearances, workplace accommodations and transportation assistance.
The OWF coordinator, along with the service member's recovery care team, stays in contact with the service member and the employer throughout the placement to ensure that there is no impact to the service member's medical profile and that the placement has no negative impact. At the completion of a placement, an exit interview is conducted with both the employer and the service member to gather information on how OWF can be improved and adapted to meet the evolving needs of service members.
Gillespie says the program is a perfect vehicle for the recruitment of transitioning veterans and thinks it helps spread awareness to employees and future employees on the multiple skill sets in which veterans bring to the job.
"This program is an opportunity for us to better familiarize federal agencies with the employability of transitioning OWF service members and for them to make that transition," said Gillespie.
In a memorandum, USACE Commanding General Lt. Gen. Thomas P. Bostick encouraged the organization to support and utilize the OWF and Army Wounded Warrior programs when looking to fill civilian vacancies.
For more news, updates and information, visit the districts website at www.lrn.usace.army.mil, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/nashvillecorps or Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/nashvillecorps