'Operation Warfighter' Puts Recovering Service Members Into Homeland Security Jobs

(Department of Homeland Security)

Most functions of the Department of Homeland Security go unseen. If a DHS office is suddenly operating in the open or in a new area, chances are that something terrible has just happened.

For veterans who want continued service to be part of their civilian lives, a post-military career in homeland security is a great option. The DHS will even help some vets get started through its "Operation Warfighter" Program.

DHS "Warfighters" are current service members on medical hold who recover from their conditions while working temporary assignments and internships at Department of Homeland Security offices. This gives them valuable civilian work experience and meaningful work to do as they heal. Most importantly for transitioning veterans, it helps them develop professional networks outside of the military.

It might even get them an elevated security clearance, a valuable asset for a potential federal employee.

Depending on the service member's skills, experience, interests and military occupation, the DHS will place them in an office and assign both a supervisor and a mentor.

DHS' most publicly visible functions are likely airport screenings by the Transportation Security Administration or raids by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Thankfully, most of us will never have to get shelter from the Federal Emergency Management Agency or have a run-in with the Secret Service. And you're having a real bad day if you get a visit from the National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center.

The point is that Homeland Security is more than ICE raids, and the department will benefit greatly from having the expertise of recovering veterans in its offices. And while there is no guarantee of a job, veterans will benefit from being considered for full-time status once they're separated from the military.

A DHS Warfighter's mentor will help with all of the logistics of their assignment, train and guide the service member in their work functions, and be there to help with any outstanding issues. The work schedule will depend on the Warfighter's medical condition and treatment schedule, but they can expect to work around 20 hours a week.

While the average Operation Warfighter assignment is three to five months long, terms can vary based on the service member's medical condition and recovery schedule.

There are some restrictions. As of this writing, the bulk of Operation Warfighter assignments are in the National Capital Region, in and around the Washington, D.C., area. The DHS notes that the program is increasingly available in other parts of the United States.

Recovering service members interested in applying must first clear their interest with the Defense Department's OWF Program Manager, Office of Wounded Warrior Care & Transition Policy, at warriorcare@osd.mil.

The next step is to submit a resume and brief description of the temporary assignment you are seeking to owf@hq.dhs.gov.

Once chosen to be a DHS Warfighter, service members will undergo the security clearance process required for their internship and must submit all relevant documentation.

For more information, visit the DHS Operation Warfighter website.

-- Blake Stilwell can be reached at blake.stilwell@military.com. He can also be found on Twitter @blakestilwell or on Facebook.

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