Anyone driving by the new hospital construction might be tempted to know what’s happening behind the fencing and newly erected concrete walls. Some vantage points within the current hospital’s upper floors give better perspective to the total progress, but who knows what is going on down there at ground level unless you wear a hardhat and boots?
Sgt. 1st Class Abu Sesay, a senior construction supervisor assigned to the 554th Engineer Battalion, is beginning his transition to retirement—something many service members both look forward to and fear at end of their career. The Army’s Career Skills Program allows Sesay to improve his skills in an internship with the construction enterprise building the hospital.
The program affords transitioning service members the opportunity to participate in employment skills training, on-the-job training, pre- apprenticeships and internships with a high probability of employment in high-demand and highly-skills jobs. Participation must occur within the last 180 days of military service, with an honorable discharge.
“The Army continues to do well by developing ways to care for its most prized assets, Soldiers. This is an excellent opportunity for anyone looking to work in the construction profession,” he said.
Sesay, from Woodbridge, Virginia, has a connection to Fort Leonard Wood and has been stationed here several times throughout his career.
“As an Engineer, I always knew the positive connection I had with this place,” he said. “It was my wife's first Army installation after we got married and my second child was born here. I have been stationed here twice and now, it will be our last Army installation.”
Sesay said he feels challenged by learning new aspects of the job in his internship role but that he’s ready to learn more. His duties in Army construction were focused mostly on building defensive positions or repairing airfields or roads. For the new hospital, he is now learning how to read and interpret architectural drawings for foundations, walls, and footings.
“As a senior construction supervisor in the Army, I have conducted quality assurance in all projects I have led or supervised. So, I try to apply that experience to what I do now, but sometimes I feel like a high school football player who got drafted by an NFL team,” he said.
Josh Shields, Quality Assurance for United States Army Corps of Engineers working on the new hospital build, said Sesay is motivated to learn new things.
“He is willing to jump in and help where needed,” said Shields.
What’s next for the soon-to-be retiree is travel and finishing his master’s degree in business. As far as a second career, he is keeping his options open.
“I want to work for the USACE, Department of Defense, or the state of North Carolina in some capacity soon,” he said.
For now, Sesay said he is thankful for his quality assurance mentors and their willingness to answer his questions and explain their methodology.
“If he does not know something he asks questions so he better understands how things work,” Shields said.
Another one of Sesay’s quality assurance mentors, Percy Williams, said Sesay is committed to learning new processes for this build and does not hesitate to ask questions of systems he is unfamiliar with.
“Since joining the hospital replacement team, SFC Sesay displays genuine dedication and motivation in learning how USACE programs operate. He is a professional, senior noncommissioned officer, with a wealth of knowledge of heavy equipment and construction procedures. He readily provides guidance on efficient means and methods,” said Williams.
Although Sesay has completed—and even supervised—some impressive projects, he said he has never come close to completing a project like this before.