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Wounded warriors continue service through employment program

Posted 4/3/2012   Updated 4/3/2012 Email story   Print story


by Erin Tindell
Air Force Personnel, Services and Manpower Public Affairs

4/3/2012 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO - RANDOLPH, Texas (AFNS) -- The Air Force's goal is to retain injured Airmen on active duty. But when this is no longer an option, wounded warriors may explore new opportunities to serve through the Air Force Wounded Warrior Civil Service Employment Program.

The program helps all combat or hostile-related ill, injured and medically separated Airmen transition into Air Force federal civilian employment. It's also one way the Air Force supports wounded warriors throughout the entire reintegration process and journey to a new 'normal.'

"Helping wounded warriors get back on their feet and into the workforce again means a lot to them," said Amelia Ruiz, a human resources specialist at the Air Force Personnel Center here. "Since 2009, more than 150 warriors have requested placement into federal service."

The process of helping a wounded warrior enter federal service is a team effort that involves collaboration between AFPC civilian personnel officials, wounded warrior non-medical care managers, local Airman and family readiness centers and local civilian personnel offices.

Once AFPC receives notification of a wounded warrior's desire to enter federal service, program managers contact local CPOs to try to match them with current or pending vacancies. Airman and family readiness center officials will help the wounded warrior with his or her resume and provide general guidance on how to transition from the military to a civilian career.

Although officials will try their best to place wounded warriors in a federal career, it's important to note minimum qualifications for a position must still be met, Ruiz said. Additionally, recent changes to the Air Force civilian workforce structure has reduced the number of available vacancies, just as it has for anyone else seeking Air Force employment.

"If a wounded Airmen couldn't be retained on active duty and still wanted to work for the Air Force, we'd do everything we could to make that happen because we owe them for their service," said Nicole Hart, an employment development specialist with the Air Force Wounded Warrior Program. "Otherwise, we still help the wounded warrior find employment in the non-profit or private sector."

One wounded warrior who recently entered civil service is Scott Lilley, an information security specialist at JB San Antonio - Lackland, Texas. In April 2007, the former security forces staff sergeant was wounded in Baghdad by a roadside bomb that left a ball bearing-sized piece of shrapnel lodged in the right side of his brain.

Lilley said working in his new job not only helps him develop resilience, but it also helps him combat some of the short term memory loss he suffered from his brain injury.

"The job I had before (medically) retiring wasn't repetitious, so I would forget a lot about the day or week before," he said. "The job I have today is very repetitious so that helps a ton."

Above all, Lilley said working as a civil servant allows him to continue serving the Air Force, which has been an inspiration throughout his life.

"I missed the military and needed to get back somehow or someway to continue working for the service."

For more information about the Air Force Wounded Warrior Civil Service Employment Program, call 800-581-9437, or visit AFPERS . For general information on Air Force civilian careers, visit this site.

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