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US Fish & Wildlife Service FieldNotes

CARLSBAD FWO: U.S. Marine Captain Experiences 'Coming Home to Work Program' at Carlsbad FWO

Region 8, June 17, 2011

By Jane Hendron, Carlsbad FWO

Located in San Diego County, the Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office (Carlsbad Office) is in close proximity to thousands of active duty military personnel stationed at one of several military installations, including Marine Corps Base, Camp Pendleton.  There are several programs now being offered by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Department of Defense to assist veterans transitioning from the military to the civilian workforce.

Among the most important of these programs is the Coming Home to Work (CHTW) Program, an early intervention and outreach program conducted by the VA’s Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Program. The CHTW program provides non-paid work experience to eligible service members pending medical separation and veterans receiving treatment at Community Based Health Care Organizations and VA medical treatment facilities.  The program focuses primarily on Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom veterans.

When the San Diego Regional VA office asked if the Carlsbad Office was interested in participating in CHTW program, the response was "of course."

After an initial meeting with representatives from the VA, staff and management from the Carlsbad Office developed a list of potential projects and opportunities that would provide interested military personnel with an introduction to the mission of our agency and how we accomplish fish and wildlife conservation.

Capt. Brent Filson, stationed at Camp Pendleton’s Wounded Warrior Battalion, came to the Carlsbad Office on February 24, 2011, to begin a two and a half month job-shadowing detail.  Growing up in western Massachusetts, Filson developed a passion for the outdoors and fly fishing.  The detail assignment was an opportunity for him to explore possible future career options involving wildlife management.

During his time at the Carlsbad Office, Filson accompanied staff to numerous site visits to gain practical knowledge of how the Fish and Wildlife Service implements the Endangered Species Act, conducts field surveys, and works with a variety of Federal, State, local and non-governmental partners to restore and manage wildlife habitat.

“This has been an invaluable experience for me,” said Brent.  “The insight I gained during these last two months have been more beneficial and significant to my transition than I could have possibly imagined.”

Participating in the CHTW program was also rewarding for the staff at the Carlsbad Office.  Heather Dyer, a wildlife biologist, spent hours with Brent while they traveled to and from field sites observing impacts associated with a large-scale gate test at the Seven Oaks Dam in San Bernardino County.  “During the long drives we talked a lot and Brent provided insights into the life of the military that I have never really been exposed to before,” says Dyer.  “Spending time with Brent really opened my eyes to the diversity of men and women serving in our armed forces.”

According to Dyer, “the best advice I was ever given when I was trying to decide my career path was to pick a job you would do for free and then find a way to get paid for it.”  The Coming Home to Work Program really supports that notion by providing military personnel a chance to explore the type of job around which they can build their future.

“Overall, I am thoroughly impressed with the Service as an organization and I am very excited to find a career within this agency, or working with this agency in some capacity,” said Filson.  

-- FWS --

Contact Info: Scott Flaherty, , Scott_Flaherty@fws.gov