U.S. House of Representatives | http://cao.house.gov/wwp-about.shtml | Serve Your Fellow Veterans – at the Highest Levels |
Published in the March/April 2011 issue of print Search & Employ® |
The Wounded Warrior Program creates two-year fellowships that provide employment opportunities within the U.S. House of Representatives. Positions are available in Congressional members’ district offices nationwide. Whenever possible, veterans selected for the program have an opportunity to transition into full-time employment at the close of the fellowship. Applicants must have served on active duty since September 11, 2001, have a 30 percent or greater service-connected disability rating, and less than 20 years of service.
Retired Master Gunnery Sergeant Patricia Orsini spent most of her career helping disabled Marines return to civilian life and find jobs. As the director of the Wounded Warrior Program, she continues to answer the call to service.
Orsini helped establish the House’s program. She was chosen to head the $5 million program in part because of her experience in developing similar, successful programs in support of veterans. She not only understands the needs of wounded warriors, but also what it means to be a veteran.
The program can employ up to 50 veterans to work with members of Congress, committees, and leadership offices and in support services. “Currently, we have 18 vacancies to fill,” Orsini said in late January. “But there will be more fellowships available as the first ones finish. Plus, more members want to join the program.”
Orsini retired from the Marine Corps with over 30 years of service, 24 of which were served on active duty. Her career highlights include managing the Reserve Medical Entitlements program at USMC Headquarters and creating a “Medical Hold” program for reservists injured on active duty. She also helped establish the Wounded Warrior Regiment at Quantico, Virginia.
The first member of the Wounded Warrior Program to be hired by a member of Congress is Army veteran Zachary Guill, who works in the Mercer Island Office of Congressman Dave Reichert of Washington’s Eighth District. Guill helps veterans obtain services from the Federal Government.
Guill joined the Army in late 2002 as an airborne infantryman. Two months into his third deployment, an IED hit his vehicle, wounding him. Upon returning to the United States, he worked to ensure that wounded soldiers returning home received proper care. He was medically retired in late 2008 and joined Congressman Reichert’s office in December 2008.
“The men and women we’re looking for to fill our positions should have at least a high school diploma, strong communication and organization skills, the ability to multitask, an understanding of the military and VA, be service-oriented, and like to work on a team,” Orsini said. “The rest will be taught to them.”
What about the distribution of the fellowships between Democrats and Republicans? “We keep things pretty even – a 50-50 split between the parties – regarding where the fellowships go,” Orsini noted. “This program is really a win-win for everybody.”
That’s true. A veteran gets a fellowship, his fellow soldiers are represented by a veteran, and a member of the House of Representatives has someone on his or her staff who speaks the language and understands the needs of service members.
That actually sounds like a win-win-win.