The 54th Chief of Engineers, Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite, addressed U.S. Army Corps of Engineers civilians in a virtual town hall meeting Tuesday to encourage them to consider deployment opportunities available within the Corps.
The town hall, hosted by the Transatlantic Middle East District’s USACE Contingency Deployment Center (UCDC), addressed the critical need for volunteers to meet USACE’s ever-expanding missions throughout the United States and the world. It also addressed some tangible and intangible benefits employees receive when they step up to answer the call.
“Providing power in Iraq, Afghanistan and Puerto Rico, ensuring the safety of Mosul Dam, COVID medical facilities, building border security infrastructure -- these are all critical missions the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has taken on,” said Semonite. “We need people to step up and fill these critical missions. And not just engineers. None of this happens without project managers, contract specialists, lawyers and all of the other functions that make projects happen.”
In addition to Semonite, commanders from several of USACE’s contingency operations also addressed the benefits of taking on a deployment. Benefits that include a strong sense of purpose in the mission, the chance to expand a person’s skillset and in most cases a larger paycheck.
Col. Christopher Beck, the commander of USACE’s Transatlantic Division, encouraged those listening to talk to those who have already deployed to learn about their experience and to contact the UCDC with any questions.
“I can talk to you all day but from my experience, the best recruiting tool we have are those who are already executing these missions,” said Beck. “If you’re interested, even if you think you might not be qualified, I encourage you to contact the UCDC and see if they have a need you can fill.”
Kirsten Smyth, the director of the UCDC, echoed that sentiment and ensured those watching they would be taken care of start to finish if they chose to deploy.
“I like to say we provide soup to nuts service for our deployees. We make sure they’re qualified, walk them through the paperwork process, make sure they have everything they need, deploy them and bring them home. Even if someone thinks they might not be qualified for age or medical reasons, I encourage them to give us a call. We will work with you on a waiver or let you know pretty quickly if that’s not possible,” Smyth said.
In addition to contingency operations, the commander of the Middle East District, Col. Philip Secrist offered up the opportunity of a longer tour overseas with the possibility of bringing family members along.
“If you have a sense of adventure and really want a chance to expand your portfolio, we have opportunities to work and live in several countries around the Middle East. These are places that are very safe and give our personnel the chance to experience all of the culture and opportunities the region has to offer. Most of our employees live on the economy in housing we provide and can come and go as they please. The majority of the countries we operate in are extremely safe,” explained Secrist.
Semonite, closed the town hall by providing his list of six reasons civilians should consider deploying with USACE:
1. These missions are critical to our nation and the success of USACE.
2. People make these missions happen and USACE personnel are passionate about what they do.
3. It’s an opportunity to see the world, experience different cultures and have a career enhancing adventure.
4. They provide an unmatched opportunity for professional development.
5. These are large scale, challenging projects that drastically expand a person’s resume.
6. There are a lot of financial incentives for taking on these tough missions.