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For Army Reserve veteran Jason Rosenthal, the prospect of finding a new home and a new job was daunting.

Rosenthal, a wounded warrior who transferred to the Warrior Transition Unit at Fort Sam Houston after 11 years of active duty, was ending his tenure at the unit—without a civilian job or home to return to.

But after a two-day NAVAIR hiring event at Fort Sam in May 2012, Rosenthal said his life changed for the better.

“In a matter of weeks, the fear of unemployment and potentially being homeless was no longer a reality I needed to consider,” he said.

In July 2012, he became a program analyst for the Support/Commercial-Derivative Aircraft Program Office (PMA-207) at NAS Patuxent River. Despite lacking formal training and education in federal acquisition policies and directives, today Rosenthal has attained a working proficiency with program management and contract data requirements list tools and has earned a level 1 certification in program management.

“The veterans returning have a wealth of experience in leadership, task organization, program management and critical thinking,” he said. “Sometimes, it takes some creative understanding of the warrior’s duty assignments and a willingness to push for the best possible outcome, but your actions could be a life-changing event to a warrior.”

Since November 2011, NAVAIR has worked with Brooke Army Medical Center (BAMC) at Fort Sam, the Department of Defense’s primary care and rehabilitation center for wounded warriors, to help wounded warriors like Rosenthal transition to the civilian workplace from the military.

Most recently, NAVAIR hiring managers and human resources personnel, along with Navy Human Resources Service Center personnel, converged from sites across the nation at BAMC Nov. 14-15 for a quarterly hiring event similar to the event Rosenthal attended. This was the third event this year NAVAIR has conducted at BAMC.

Led by NAVAIR Wounded Warrior Program Manager Capt. James Litsch and Individuals with Disabilities Action Team champions Steve Cricchi and Dan Nega, the hiring event team met with 45 wounded, ill and injured service members from all the armed services to share information about NAVAIR’s missions and programs, give career advice and conduct interviews for job openings.

This and previous BAMC events are the result of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed in January 2012 by leaders of the Soldier and Family Assistance Center at Fort Sam, the Navy’s Office of Civilian Human Resources, and NAVAIR. This MOU cemented a partnership committed to helping the growing number of our nation’s disabled and wounded veterans find meaningful careers in the government or private sector.

“The first anniversary of the signing of NAVAIR’s MOU with BAMC gives us the opportunity to reflect on the importance of NAVAIR’s commitment to finding meaningful careers for the nation’s wounded warriors,” Cricchi said. “We’ve learned that while the entire nation stands behind the philosophy of taking care of our wounded, ill and injured service members, and plenty of companies visibly promote programs to do so, the reality is that many service members face separation without a job offer in hand.”

For Rosenthal, the partnership hits close to home.

“The majority of the men and women I knew at the warrior transition unit at BAMC wanted to continue serving,” he said. “Validating the sacrifice of a warrior by allowing them to continue supporting the warriors they served beside is a crucial element in healing.”

In fiscal year 2012, NAVAIR hired 188 wounded warriors and has hired 12 BAMC wounded warriors. NAVAIR’s Patuxent River and Cherry Point, N.C., sites are among the top locations where the Navy Dept. has hired veterans in fiscal year 2012, according to department hiring statistics.

Rosenthal advises wounded warriors separating from active duty to refrain from underestimating themselves and to use all the resources available to them, such as resume writing classes and career counselors. Most important, he tells them to take a chance and ask for help.

“Whatever illness or injury, you are still, and always will be, a warrior,” he advised. “That means you are a member of an elite group of Americans. Your skills are desperately needed, because you acquired them under the toughest conditions with the greatest risk.”

For more information on NAVAIR’s Wounded Warrior Program, visit www.navair.navy.mil/jobs or email navairwoundedwarrior@navy.mil.