ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (May 30, 2014) -- Keyla Kelly never envisioned working as an assistant inspector general for the U.S. Army.The Always a Soldier program afforded Kelly that opportunity as an Army civilian in a career field she thought was outside her reach."The role of the IG is something that I never thought that I would have had an opportunity to be a part of. I thought it was far above my reach or where I would ever see myself going. This was a golden opportunity," she said.After an accident left Kelly unable to continue her service as a Soldier, she learned about Always a Soldier and applied. She eventually landed a job in November 2009 as an assistant IG for the Army Research, Development and Engineering Command.Kelly has turned her four-and-a-half years with RDECOM into a new position as an investigative support specialist with the Department of Defense's Office of Inspector General. She began her new job April 21.The Army Materiel Command established the Always a Soldier program in 2004 to hire wounded veterans who separated from military service with an honorable discharge and 30 percent or more service-connected disability."It's a great program. It's definitely what opened the door for me. It's prepared me for my future in the IG field and this new opportunity with DoD IG. I stand behind this program 100 percent," Kelly said. "It's excellent for former Soldiers who never thought that they would have these sorts of opportunities."According to Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno's testimony to Congress in April, the active Army will shrink from a war-time high of 570,000 Soldiers to 450,000 by 2017. Sequestration-level caps could reduce the total further to 420,000.Programs that assist service members in making the transition from the military to civilian life, such as Always a Soldier, are especially important now as the Army shrinks, Kelly said. She encourages fellow Soldiers to consider federal civil service."Definitely apply for the Always a Soldier program. Put your name in the hat even if you don't think anything will come of it. You never know. It could lead to a wonderful opportunity as it did for me," she said.Kelly credits RDECOM's management team for supporting the program and allowing her the opportunity to serve the Army as a civilian employee. "It had a lot to do with my boss, Ernie Morgan, who pushed for the program. The command backed and supported him. It's something that civilian hiring managers should be aware of," she said.-----RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command. AMC is the Army's premier provider of materiel readiness -- technology, acquisition support, materiel development, logistics power projection, and sustainment -- to the total force, across the spectrum of joint military operations. If a Soldier shoots it, drives it, flies it, wears it, eats it or communicates with it, AMC provides it.