Wounded Warriors Gain Hands-On Experience with Army Corps of Engineers
By Phillip Mun
FORT SHAFTER, HI - The Honolulu District has developed working relationships with two Wounded Warrior units: the Warrior Transition Battalion based at Schofield Barracks and the Marine Wounded Warrior Detachment based at Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Kaneohe.
The mission of these organizations is to transition Warriors and families from injury, illness, or disease to duty or veteran status. When servicemembers become wounded, ill, or injured, they often face a major change in their career trajectory. While approximately 50% return to their military careers, many separate from service and begin a new career in the civilian workforce.
The District supports the Wounded Warrior programs by allowing service members to gain valuable work experience as volunteers as they transition back into either the military or civilian life. Participants are interviewed to determine their interest in the various career fields within the District organization.
"It's a win-win situation for all parties involved," said Honolulu District's Deputy Commander, Maj. Sally Hannan. "Wounded Warriors gain valuable work experience with the District in a professional business setting, while the District benefits from the additional disciplined and dedicated work ethic of the servicemember."
Most recently, the District welcomed Wounded Warriors U.S. Marine Staff Sgt. Don Choi to the Technical Integration Branch (TIB) and U.S. Army Spec. Dave Balisican to the Schofield Barracks Resident Office. Both Wounded Warriors were placed in job fields based on their experience and areas of interest.
Choi communicated to the District leadership an interest in geospatial technology and mapping, and he was able to work in the Technical Integration Branch (TIB) side-by-side with the Geographical Information Systems (GIS) team. While working part time in the TIB, Choi learned how to create computer-aided design (CAD) and to compose construction drawings.
Balisican worked in the field with District project engineers and managers at Schofield Barracks, assisting with managing military construction projects in direct support to local combatant commanders.
"Spec. Balisican has been an integral member of our quality assurance team on the $38 million Tactical Equipment Maintenance Facility on Schofield Barracks," said Darren Carpenter, resident engineer for the District's Stryker Resident Office at Schofield Barracks. "His military and civilian experiences in construction had an immediate impact on improving the contractor's quality control and safety programs. His efforts have contributed to ensuring the Army benefits from the highest quality facility."
These working relationships vary in length based on the availability of the service member and how long they are assigned to the Wounded Warriors program. Typically, the District is given the opportunity to work with these service members for up to six months.
"It's been a great learning experience for me, working alongside the Corps engineers as they have helped me to understand the role of a QA (quality assurance representative)," Balisican said in a recent email to the resident office leadership. "The transition from contractor to QA has been slightly challenging for me, since for the majority of my life I've swung a hammer or worked with my hands. Now I'm reading blueprints, doing computer work using the Resident Management System (software) and walking a project site as it progresses. It's a great job, and I enjoy working with an excellent staff."
The Honolulu District is committed to partnering with the local programs that assist with the reintegration of our Wounded Warriors and growing our Wounded Warrior Program. We invite members of the team to share this opportunity with others in the community. Interested Warriors may contact the District's Equal Employment Opportunity Office (Phillip Mun at 808 835-4011).
The U.S. Army established Warrior Transition Units (WTUs) at major military treatment facilities located around the world to provide personal support to wounded Soldiers who require at least six months of rehabilitative care and complex medical management. A WTU closely resembles a "line" Army unit with a professional cadre and integrated Army processes that builds on the Army's strength of unit cohesion and teamwork so that wounded Soldiers can focus on healing to transition back to the Army or to civilian status.
The District is currently managing the construction of a new $59.085 million Warriors in Transition Barracks and complex at Schofield Barracks. The new 120 Soldier capacity barracks and the complex, which includes a Soldier Family Assistance Center, is being built on the former parking area adjacent to the post health clinic and is scheduled for completion in Oct. 2013. Schofield Barracks currently has approximately 180 Soldiers assigned to its Warrior Transition Brigade.