HENDERSONVILLE, Tenn. (Nov. 24, 2014) – A Fort Campbell soldier and electronics technician who sustained multiple injuries during deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan is making the most of an internship and job opportunity with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District.
In transitioning from the military, Henry Mare applied for an internship opportunity and employment with the Nashville District Hydropower Branch’s Electronics Service Section at Old Hickory Dam through Operation Warfighter, a program that provides military members transition assistance and connects them with employment and internship opportunities with federal agencies.
Mare began an internship in early September and the Corps just informed him of his selection for employment. Mare said he loves the job, which involves repairing and maintaining security systems at hydropower plants and navigation locks, and he is thrilled to get to work full time.
“Just last March, I began the medical board process and heard about the internship program,” Mare said. “I followed up with the OWF coordinator, got an internship and now a job. Last Wednesday, I was released from service. Monday I continued as an intern. Now, we expect an official start date to be Dec. 3.”
Richard Rieger, ESS supervisor, said Mare comes onboard with experience as an electronics technician and as an intern, so he is able to contribute right away and help with the backload of work at nine power plants and 13 locks located within the Tennessee River and Cumberland River watersheds.
“We got a very qualified technician with experience and a great work ethic,” Rieger said.
Mare, who resides in Clarksville with his wife and four-year-old son, served as an Army specialist until last week. Now he is preparing to embark on a civil service career and he has Operation Warfighter to thank for it.
Fort Campbell officials held its quarterly career fair last week at the Soldier and Family Assistance Center, allowing soldiers to meet face-to-face with more than a dozen federal agencies with internship opportunities.
As a federal internship program, Operation Warfighter provides opportunities for service members to augment their employment readiness by building their resumes, exploring employment interests, obtaining formal and on-the-job training, and gaining valuable federal government work experience that helps prepare them for the future. The program helps align soldiers’ abilities and interests with internship opportunities, and then ensures placement does not negatively impact their medical needs.
Defense Finance and Accounting Service, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District and the Wounded Warrior Project were among the agencies at Wednesday’s event.
The OWF program is not an employment agency, but provides an important step to bridge the gap between military service and civilian employment, explained Ned Hall, the OWF coordinator for the Midwest Region.
“For wounded, ill and injured Service members, that means they can build skills, training and networking, while still in the Army and still taking care of their medical appointments and other requirements,” Hall said.
Hall added that it can be a stressful time when military members hang up the uniform and enter a new career.
“This program confirms for these service members that the skills they learned in the military are transferable to a civilian job,” Hall said. “For those who return to duty in their healing process, the internships can give them additional training, certifications and experience that can make them even more valuable to their unit.”
More than 150 Soldiers have expressed interest in the program since June, and about 50 of those followed through all the way to being placed in internships. Some have found permanent employment either with the agency where they interned, or from the networking, training and experience they gained from the internship.
Mare said the internship experience helped him ease the stress of his transition from the start.
“When I first got there, everybody there really took me in. They briefed me on everything and showed me around,” Mare said. “They really made me a part of the team. They took care of me from day one and still are taking care of me.”
Like any opportunity worthwhile, nothing is just handed to you, Mare cautioned. “You really have to take initiative and always follow up. But the opportunity is there. Just use what they teach you in the military and apply it to any job. Simple things like discipline, values, being on time – it should be ingrained in everything you do.”
Nationwide, Operation Warfighter has placed more than 2,500 service members in internships with more than 105 different federal agencies. About 15 percent of interns have transitioned into federal jobs after participating in the OWF program, according to the Office of Warrior Care Policy web site.
For more information on the OWF program, contact the Fort Campbell office at (270) 798-3151.
(Lee Roberts, Nashville District Public Affairs, contributed to this story. The public can obtain news, updates and information from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District on the district’s website at www.lrn.usace.army.mil
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