Operation Warfighter Helps Oklahoma Veterans Find Jobs
SAND SPRINGS, Oklahoma - For a veteran, returning home from war is an eye-opening experience.
For those who are wounded, it's a world-changing one.
Many wounded warriors find that getting back into the swing of things in the real world isn't easy.
The Operation Warfighter Program hopes to make that transition smoother by helping the veterans find jobs.
Local federal agencies met Wednesday afternoon at Keystone State Park, to discuss ways to hire wounded veterans.
They say they need to spread the word that veterans are stellar employees, wounded or not.
But when a soldier returns stateside, "home" sometimes isn't home anymore.
"When you come home from Iraq, or just wherever you come from, you have this, this thing you are looking for, where you feel like you want to be accepted again," said Corporal Ray Ford McIntosh.
McIntosh serves in the Army National Guard. He said he felt lost when he got back from Iraq in 2008.
"One day I felt like I just needed the change, I just wanted to do something—kind of upgrade. [I was] trying to find me something I could do when I got out of the military that could help me and my family," McIntosh said.
McIntosh said the Operation Warfighter Program was there to make his change seamless. He now works with the Army Corps of Engineers.
"The real purpose of today is to get a real jump-off point, so federal agencies have the information to tap into resources; how to get wounded warriors into their office or agency," said William E. Smiely, of the Army Corps of Engineers.
The program offers temporary jobs at federal agencies to soldiers wounded in combat.
McIntosh said wounded warriors already have a negative title.
"Whether it's someone who has PTSD or injury or missing limb or whatever, it's like we are already labeled. Put in a box already," McIntosh said.
McIntosh says if employers look past the "wounded" part, they'll find a highly qualified employee.
"I think that, with the skills we have as soldiers, that's basically what you are looking for anyways, long term. Attention to detail, just being able to follow orders, being able to be a leader when called upon," McIntosh said.
For McIntosh, the program afforded him not only the confidence of a job, but a way back from "lost."
"It's good to be back," he said.
Agencies that attended Wednesday's luncheon included the Fish and Wildlife Services and the Transportation Securities Administration.
For more information, check out the Operation Warfighter Program web site.