The Southwest Region Works with Wounded Warrior Project
Heroes in our Midst
Within the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, we often feel that our country’s greatest treasure is our natural resources. Conservation is in our blood after all. But it could be argued that our country’s greatest treasure is really those few brave individuals that risk their lives to defend our way of life and our people. In so doing, they also fight to protect our country’s natural treasures that help define us as a nation. So it is truly remarkable when a soldier home from war decides to continue to serve this country that he or she has fought so bravely to protect in a whole new way: by becoming conservationists themselves. The Southwest Region is proud to be a part of the Wounded Warrior Project by participating in Operation Warfighter – an effort to help wounded veterans gain new skills that will help them re-enter the workforce. To date, we have had eight wounded warriors – two in Oklahoma, one in Arizona, two in Texas, and four in the Regional Office – join our ranks.
Helping Injured Soldiers Transition Back into the Workforce
To honor all of the great men and women who participate in this program, we will be doing a series featuring these proud veterans.
Anne Hammond joined the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service after serving 25 years of Active duty with the U.S. Navy. Hammond says, “In the 80s when I started, the opportunities for females were limited. Many jobs were in manpower, personnel, and training, which later was renamed Human Resources.” She added, “My entire career was in HR.” What led her to Service after achieving a military retirement? Hammond attributes it to timing, mostly. She explains that she had leveraged a skill set in the Navy that she could take anywhere. But it was Hammond’s appreciation of the southwest, and that fact she and her husband are very active outdoors, that increased the appeal of working at the Regional Office in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Hammond just celebrated her one-year anniversary with the Service in September and has really enjoyed the experience and the challenges. On comparing her experience in the military to the Service, Hammond said, “DOD is more driven-based on world events. Here we are focused on land and resources in our own backyard and that is nice.” She also compared her HR work experience indicating the concepts are the same, but the terms are different. She adds, “It was like learning a new language.” Continuing, Hammond notes the similarities are much greater than she expected. With the military, she took care of the HR needs for employees from recruitment to retirement. “We do the same thing here,” she says. “We bring on new hires, and help them grow and develop in their careers until separation, or retirement.”
Hammond is the Chief of Human Resources in the Southwest Region.
Let’s meet Alex Bushyhead from Skiatook, Oklahoma. Wrapping up his work assignment with the Service, Bushyhead is a Corporal in the Army National Guard. He lives with his wife and two-year-old daughter on a small farm in Chelsea, Oklahoma. As he enjoys hunting, fishing, boating, other outdoor activities, working with the Service seemed like a natural fit. Bushyhead joined the army in 2008 as an infantry man. He attended sniper school in 2010 and was deployed to Afghanistan in 2011. While on a mission he tore the ligaments in his knee. He participated in the Community Based Warrior Transition Unit (BWTU) in the Operation Warfighter program. Through this program, Bushyhead was able to gain work experience with the Service in the Oklahoma Ecological Services field Office in Tulsa, Oklahoma. His next goal is to obtain his bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice.
Another participant in Wounded Warrior Project is Timothy Steely. From Ardmore, Oklahoma, Steely is an Infantry Specialist for the Army National Guard. After graduating from high school in 2006, Steely joined the Army National Guard in 2007, and was deployed to Iraq. After his deployment, Steely began working towards a degree in Criminal Justice. Then, in 2011, he was deployed again, this time to Afghanistan. After returning home, Steely received his associate’s degree, and is currently working towards his bachelor’s. An outdoors’ enthusiast, Steely enjoyed his internship experience working for the Service in our Ecological Services Field Office in Tulsa, Oklahoma.