Operation Warfighter candidate Staff Sgt. Kimberly Webster (left) works with a colleague to provide customer service in the Defense Military Pay Office (DMPO) at Fort Sam Houston, Texas.

Staff Sgt. Kimberly Webster is a soldier recovering at the Brooke Army Medical Center Warrior Transition Battalion (BAMC-WTB) after suffering nerve damage to her right knee, leg, and foot from an injury while deployed in Iraq. After her injury, she recalls facing "the challenge of finding something completely new" after working in Army aviation for 23 years. It wasn't until she learned of Operation Warfighter (OWF) that she became optimistic about her professional future.

As a federal internship program designed to place service members in supportive work settings outside of the hospital environment, OWF seeks to positively impact this population while they seek to join the civilian workforce. The program encourages several strategies for success including resume building, exploring employment interests, developing job skills and gaining valuable federal government work experience in order to increase employment readiness during their recovery.

Due to the support she received through OWF and WTB Transition Coordinator Zach Gant, Staff Sgt. Webster is now completing an internship with the Defense Finance and Accounting Services (DFAS).

"OWF helped me rehabilitate. It was good to get back to working with a team and into a daily routine," she said. "After six months, I know what to expect every day. I know there's a workplace where I belong."

Transition Coordinators like Gant support recovering soldiers at 29 WTUs and nine Community-Based WTUs (CBWTUs) nationwide. They work with OWF to help employers at federal agencies and private sector organizations connect with wounded, ill and injured service members from all services who anticipate transitioning out of the military soon. In the Army, each soldier recovering in a WTU develops career goals through their personalized Comprehensive Transition Plan (CTP).

"The soldiers with a plan, and who are working toward it, are the ones who are successful after they leave the WTU," said Gant.

Staff Sgt. Claudia Mendez, another soldier healing at Joint Base Lewis-McChord Warrior Transition Battalion (JBLM-WTB), encourages soldiers to take a chance. With a background in the military medical field, she has now learned that she "loves customer service and being around people," after working in the installation's Defense Military Pay Office through OWF.

"You can't limit yourself to what you've always known," she said. "So many doors can open in your favor."

For more information about employment opportunities for wounded, ill or injured soldiers, visit the U.S. Army Warrior Transition Command (WTC) website at www.WTC.army.mil.

Page last updated Thu November 1st, 2012 at 00:00