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 Military Personnel 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.
Gerry Dolan continued from homepage
Gerry Dolan in the field. Photo credit: Mara Weisenberger.
Gerry is currently studying the Chihuahuan Desert flora and fauna to prepare for the volunteer Texas Master Naturalist Program through Texas A&M. Gerry is also applying to Masters Programs in Natural Resource Management in Fall 2017. While volunteering at the San Andres NWR over the next six to nine months, Gerry will be working on invasive species management, bird banding, Integrated Pest Management plan development, and cataloging native plants for an herbarium.
The program by which Gerry joins the Service is one of four veteran programs conducted in collaboration with the Department of Defense (DOD), the OWF Program is a DOD temporary assignment and internship program for service members that are convalescing at military treatment facilities nationwide. Operation Warfighter is designed to provide recuperating service members with meaningful activity outside of the hospital environment which assists in wellness and offers a formal means of transition to the military-related or civilian workforce. OWF provides opportunities for service members on medical hold to build their resumes, explore employment interests, develop job skills, and gain valuable Federal Government work experience that will help prepare them for the future. Military service members are still in active duty status; therefore, they are paid by the Department of Defense.
We are proud to be the first Refuge in the Southwest Region collaborating with the OWF Program. This internship at San Andres NWR is a win-win situation which provides valuable help to our office with no-cost assistance and valuable career experience to our transitioning service member.
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 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.
A 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.