Fort Knox Emergency Services initiates new internship programs for ETSing Soldiers
Fort Knox security guards discuss ways to ensure those who attempt to enter the installation illegally are denied access during recent training at Brandenburg Gate. (Photo Credit: Eric Pilgrim, Fort Knox News) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT KNOX, Ky. — Leaders from the Fort Knox Directorate of Emergency Services launched two internship programs last week that will provide Soldiers leaving the Army a unique employment opportunity.

The internship programs focus on two areas: security guards and firefighters. Officials say those wishing to enter civilian service the very same day they leave the Army could feasibly do so as a security guard.

“This is a great way for our Soldiers to get into the GS system straightaway,” said Sgt. Maj. Scott Tate, DES sergeant major. “They’re already in the door applying for GS jobs when they start as a Soldier. Whereas, it’s harder to get in the door once you’re outside. That’s a huge benefit.”

Internships for departing Soldiers is not a new idea, said Tate. He noted that, in fact, the Career Skills Program has been offering ETSing Soldiers internship programs for several years.

But the initial idea, specifically for firefighter and gate guard internships, came from a different direction.

“We didn’t invent the wheel,” said Tate. “My stepson is in high school, and the firefighters have a program for the high school students; there have about five students in the high school program getting Level 1 certified.

“Our idea was, if they can do it for high school students, why can’t they do it for Soldiers getting out?”

Gate guards are also currently needed at Fort Knox.

“We’re trying to do everything we can to increase the numbers of guards we have,” said Tate.

Tate said he recommended that both programs fall under his office for management to streamline the process and take the stress off of each service chief.

The firefighter program amounts to approximately four months of training that will result in participants being Level 1 certified. Because of the nature of the training, there is a limit to how many can participate in a given class.

However, those who go through the experience will walk away with certifications that will make them marketable if they wish to pursue a career in three areas of firefighting — firefighter, dispatcher and inspector — whether for the military or in the civilian sector.

Fort Knox Emergency Services initiates new internship programs for ETSing Soldiers
Fort Knox requirements for acceptance into the firefighter internship program (Photo Credit: Eric Pilgrim photo illustration) VIEW ORIGINAL

Tate said he foresees the more desirable program, at least initially, to be the security guard internship, which for now is expected to get Soldiers through initial training in about three weeks. As well, there is no cap on how many Soldiers can go through the program.

“For those Soldiers who are planning to get out and don’t have plans, they can get certified to be a guard and if they like it, we can hire them the day they start ETS leave,” said Tate.

Eligibility for the program starts 180 days from a Soldier's ETS date. Tate said he is working with the Career Skills Program to get the word out about the opportunities afforded ETSing Soldiers.

Director of Emergency Services Lt. Col. David Little said one of the due-outs they have is getting unit commanders to agree to release Soldiers to DES for participation in the programs.

“I think the commanders will be supportive because we’re not looking for Soldiers who are being chaptered; we’re targeting those folks who are ETSing,” said Little. “If they are good Soldiers and have decided to leave the Army, I’m sure their commanders and the chain of command will want to support them.”

Fort Knox Emergency Services initiates new internship programs for ETSing Soldiers
Fort Knox requirements for acceptance into the security guard internship program (Photo Credit: Eric Pilgrim photo illustration) VIEW ORIGINAL

Little and Tate see ETSing Soldiers as ideal for the guard program since two areas that hold up the process of hiring guards are background checks and the security clearance. Even for Soldiers who don’t have a security clearance, the process of applying for one is much quicker and easier.

For instance, Soldiers can begin work as a guard almost immediately with an interim clearance while they wait for the process to be completed.

“If a Soldier wants to be a guard after they get out and they don’t have a security clearance and wait to start one as a guard, it takes a lot longer — and there’s no interim,” said Tate. “So this internship is beneficial to the Soldier, and to us.”

Both the firefighter and guard programs require secret security clearances, physical fitness standards, and clean background checks; all requirements that many active duty Soldiers already have.

Little said both internships also serve another purpose; they ensure the Army family continues to look for ways to take of its own.

“This is about fulfilling the Soldier for Life promise,” said Little. “This program helps take care of Soldiers because it gives them a security clearance and a good paying government job with real benefits.”

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Editor's Note: For more information on the internships available under the Career Skills Program at Fort Knox, call 502-624-8246 or 270-798-6511.