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Posted 4/1/2013

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By Carol Labashosky

During the fall of 2012, Louisville District’s Chief of Construction Division Kirk Dailey began the district’s involvement with the Department of Defense Operation Warfighter (OWF) program. With the help and guidance of Lisa Matthew, civilian personnel advisory center, Dailey organized a recruitment campaign at the Fort Knox Wounded Warrior Transition Battalion—which the Corps designed and constructed—to match Soldiers’ skills with job opportunities at the district.

Maj. James Thompson has set up shop in Louisville District’s construction division working on Reserve projects. He is currently in a medical recuperation status from an injury sustained while deployed. The details of his presence in the civilian workforce are unique. He is among the first Soldiers from Fort Knox to work at the district under the OWF campaign.

Staff Sgt. Char’reise Vincent is the district’s second OWF intern and works as an environmental protection assistant in regulatory. She has supported more than 2,400 contracts for civilians who work in Afghanistan.

Like Thompson, she is assigned to Fort Knox’s Wounded Warrior Transition Battalion and experienced an injury while serving her country. Both Soldiers work at the district part-time.

Thompson’s and Vincent’s work at the district is part of the Department of Defense federal internship program that assists wounded, ill and injured service members as part of their recuperation. These soldiers are required to either take classes or pursue work as part of their recovery while part of the Warrior Transition Program.

"It’s an important program," said Dailey. "Bringing these Soldiers on board was an easy decision. Thompson’s military experience combined with his professionalism and work ethic adds value to our mission execution."

OWF is beneficial to both the Soldier and the government. Soldiers build their resumes, explore employment interests, develop job skills and gain valuable government work experience, while helping to execute the district’s mission.

"The government benefits from the talent, dedication and skills of the Soldier," Thompson said.

Thompson is an engineer officer, the 12B Military Occupational Specialty (MOS). As a construction engineer, he has built roads, dams and been involved in heavy horizontal construction. He most recently deployed to Afghanistan. He has spent 26 years in the Tennessee Army National Guard, including the last 18 months as Resident Office Officer-in-Charge.

Thompson is familiar with working closely with civilians, he said. In Afghanistan, he helped the civilian staff with logistics so they could complete projects.

"The program here has brought me full circle. The Corps built the Warrior Transition Battalion; I’m a part of that facility. Now, I’m here at the district and have ‘closed the loop,’" Thompson reflected. "I’ll continue to be in the intern program here for as long as it takes for me to return to the civilian workforce."

While on active duty, Vincent supported mobilization and demobilization in Afghanistan. Previously, she had served with the 372nd Engineer Brigade Fort Snelling, Minn., and comes to the area from St. Paul, Minn. Vincent’s dual MOS are firefighter and human resources specialist.

"The work here will help me reintegrate when I go back home to St. Paul, Minn.," Vincent said. "OWF gives Soldiers hope and a foot in the door. We all have to start somewhere, and it’s hard. I have motivation to look forward."

The district recently brought a third Soldier, Staff Sgt. Jackie Wallace, into OWF to work at the Olmsted Locks and Dam construction project on the lower Ohio River in Olmsted, Ill.