I found this story on the US Dept of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service’s Southern Research Station website.
|David Carrera, USFS firefighter on the Angeles National Forest, served as a Marine Corps staff sergeant 1998-2006.|
Ted Willis, a Southern Research Station program manager based at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, wants USDA Forest Service managers around the country hire more veterans to fight wildland fires.
“With so many soldiers coming back, I thought we had to find a way to employ them,” said Willis. “Unfortunately, many of the veterans were unqualified for journeymen firefighter and other resource positions, so we had to determine how they could receive training.”
Willis has worked his way through the bureaucracy to have veterans hired at an entry-level GS-03 level (or GS-04 with experience). Upon completion of their 18-month Wildland Fire Apprenticeship Program (WFAP) in McClellan, CA, these former soldiers can be hired in other resource and administrative entry level positions. Veterans enrolled in WFAP are eligible to receive Veterans Administration (VA) educational benefits.
Willis is already seeing his seemingly simple idea make a difference in the lives of some former servicemen and women.
“The Wildland Firefighter Apprenticeship program made it easy for me to transition from the military to the civilian side,” said David Carrera, a firefighter on the Angeles National Forest in California and former Marine Corps staff sergeant. “I feel this is one of the best on-the-job training programs to be in.”
Managers who would like to know more about the program can contact Ted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and by phone at 850-412-7383.