The unknown road does not have to be scary
By MaryTherese Griffin, Warrior Care and Transition

ARLINGTON, Va. - There is no road map to the perfect life, but retired Staff Sgt. Hector Lopez thought he had a pretty good one. The former airborne, infantry and reconnaissance Soldier deployed six times before suffering a medical condition that would ultimately lead to him being medically retired.

"I had a mitral valve prolapse with severe regurgitation that required me to have open heart surgery," Lopez said. "It was discovered during my physical when I was preparing for Ranger school."

The condition was not going to allow Lopez to return to duty, so he began to look into the Career Skills Program at the Warrior Transition Battalion at Fort Riley, Kansas. Through the CSP program Lopez found an opportunity with Air Stream Renewables Trade School, which offers courses on climbing towers for jobs like wiring or inspections.

"I didn't have any doubt about my future because I took advantage of all the programs, volunteer work and schooling the Career Skills Program had to offer. Because of these programs and opportunities, I was able to be better prepared for the civilian world after 16 years of active duty," said Lopez.

Now that the United States Army Medical Command has a CSP specific to WTB Soldiers, many more road maps of opportunity await. Lopez was surprised what taking an approved course while transitioning out would do.

The program afforded Lopez the opportunity to adapt and to feel more comfortable as he transitioned into civilian life. His family was excited for the opportunities as well because it allowed him to be home with them more.

Lopez now works for a television service provider in a job he loves. "I enjoy it because of all the interaction I have with people, as well as always doing something good as I provide a service to them," Lopez said.

Like many others who are wounded, ill or injured, Lopez had his whole world change right before his eyes. For those finding themselves in a similar situation, Lopez offers some sage advice from his rear view mirror.

"Take advantage of all the programs and opportunities the CSP has to offer, as well as all the job fairs. It all depends on how motivated and how serious you are about your transition and your future," Lopez said. "There's always something to do and someone to help, but the key thing, is to stay positive, motivated and focused on what you want to do."

To learn more about the MEDCOM CSP read the STAND-TO!