Wounded warrior heals with internship
November 14, 2011
FORT HOOD, Texas, Nov. 14, 2011 -- Caring for wounded warriors in all aspects is a job that the Fort Hood Warrior Transition Brigade takes seriously throughout the year, but special attention is drawn to November, which is recognized as Warrior Care Month. While much of the care given to wounded warriors is medical, attention is also paid to the physical, emotional and spiritual needs through a variety of programs.
In an effort to help wounded warriors excel in the civilian workforce after transitioning from the military, programs like Operation Warfighter, a Department of Defense internship program for warriors in transition, play a crucial role.
At Fort Hood, one current Soldier going through an internship with the Department of the Treasury/Internal Revenue Service in Austin is Spc. Vanessa Vinson, a former avionics mechanic with the 101st Airborne Division.
After being injured in a blast while deployed to Afghanistan in 2008 through 2009, Vinson came to the Fort Hood WTB and applied for the internship program.
"It's pretty nerve-wracking when you get hurt and you can't do your job anymore," she said. "You've only been trained to do this. So it's been a really good experience to know that I'm capable of doing something else and that I can be successful in something else."
Vinson is currently serving as an intern with the Accounts Management Taxpayer Assurance Program, or AMTAP, at the IRS.
"It's very similar to a brigade S-1 (personnel office)," she said with a laugh. As an AMTAP intern, Vinson is responsible for administrative programs relating to personnel leave and other personnel reports.
"We asked for some skills on computer and we got Vanessa's resume and she fit the bill exactly," Carl Ochs, AMTAP department manager, said. "She's done a great job of learning whatever we throw at her. Coming from the Army, one of the things that is great is the discipline and professionalism she brings."
Vinson has already been with AMTAP for more than six months and hopes to continue interning throughout her transition process. She said the program has helped her learn new skills and gain a comfort level outside of her job in the Army.
"It certainly helped me transition to new stresses that I'll have to face, while still having the comfort of my unit behind me and the support of people who care about me and are cheering me on," she said. "I would recommend an internship to any of the warriors who are transitioning. It is invaluable."
For Anthony Thomas, the Fort Hood WTB transition coordinator, the partnership between Fort Hood and the IRS in Austin is also invaluable to the wounded warriors of the Great Place. The IRS in Austin was one of the first agencies to partner on the internship program with Fort Hood back in 2009.
"It's working wonderfully," Thomas said. "The IRS will always be one of the organizations that I look at expanding the internship program at. They've been a pillar of the program, and I appreciate the IRS for supporting the Soldiers."
"They certainly take care of their own here, very similar to the way the Army takes care of their own," Vinson added.
She said that camaraderie and support has been much appreciated as she learns new skills and begins the process of moving out of the military.
"I think learning to communicate to someone outside the military is a difficult task, but this internship certainly helps with that," she said. "It's also helped me in the sense that I've gotten a taste of civilian life."
The theme of this month's Warrior Care Month is "Healing the Mind, Body and Spirit: Unlocking Unlimited Potential."