In 2013, Army Staff Sgt. Brandon Soper, a multiple rocket systems crewmember with the 2-289th Field Artillery, 157th Infantry Brigade at Camp Atterbury, Indiana was injured while competing at the First Army Division’s regional competition for the Army's Best Warrior competition.
During his recovery period, Soper connected with Warrior Care’s Operation Warfighter’s (OWF) / Warrior Care’s Education and Employment Initiative (E2I) coordinators Ned Hall and Amy Marohl, who placed him with an internship with Department of Defense’s Department of Finance Accounting Service, or DFAS.
Hall and Marohl are the Midwest regional coordinators for OWF/E2I and have created a partnership with the DFAS, located in Indianapolis, Indiana. Soper utilized OWF/E2I during his recovery and began his career with DFAS right after transitioning into the civilian world. Soper is now a recruiter for DFAS’ “Hire a Hero Program”.
Hall, who has been with OWF for years said, “DFAS has been a great resource for medically leaving active duty.”
“Through internships, recovering service members can gain experience, and see if it’s a good fit for them,” emphasized Marhol. “It’s an entry point, so don’t assume that you’re going to go in at a level that is your goal, but to see if this is another path that you may like. And there’s a lot of potential for growth.”
Within a month of leaving active duty, Soper was offered a full-time position at DFAS in Indianapolis. By participating in the Hire a Hero program, he was placed on a list that allowed him to take on additional tasks and different jobs within DFAS. This experience made it easy for him to network and further his knowledge within DFAS.
“I started off as a GS-4, and almost cried,” explained Soper. But once you get your foot in the door, there are so many opportunities. I constantly tell people, those first two years – just be patient. In my wildest dreams, I never thought this was something I was going to do.”
As the DFAS Hire a Hero program recruiter, Soper’s on a mission to recruit recovering service members and veterans. He wants to provide them with the same opportunity that he was presented and help them further their careers. Most importantly, highlighting the value that recovering service members and veterans bring to the DFAS workforce.
Soper furthered, “Military personnel already have a step-up compared to civilians because they are somewhat familiar with a lot of forms that we utilize.” DFAS recognizes the value and skills that recovering service members and veterans bring, such as their leadership skills, team attitude, and mission focus. The Hire a Hero Program places qualified Service Members and Veterans in a file that matches their specialties and skills, and they can begin working their way up the ladder.
Warrior Care’s OWF provides eligible recovering service Members (RSMs) with an opportunity to intern at a variety of different Federal entities; while Warrior Care’s E2I help RSMs identify their skills and match them with education and career opportunities that will help them with a successful transition into civilian life.
To apply through the Hire a Hero Program, visit: https://www.dfas.mil/careers/howtojoin/hire-a-hero/.