Operation Warfighter Program Leads to New Opportunity

March 3, 2016 | By glancaster
By: Office of Warrior Care Policy [caption id="attachment_6436" align="alignright" width="258"]
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Retired Air Force Major Dave Andrews poses with his service dog

Retired Air Force Major Dave Andrews didn’t foresee the turn his life would take after a career-ending injury in the military.  After serving his fourth tour as a Combat Advisor, Andrews found himself injured and recovering while assigned to the Army Warrior Transition Command.  While in the command, he was introduced to Operation Warfighter (OWF), a Department of Defense program that matches qualified wounded, ill and injured Service members with non-funded Federal internships.  For Andrews, an interest in the internship program would lead him to a new career and educational opportunity.

After learning about the OWF program, Andrews sent his resume to an OWF Regional Coordinator and within two weeks, three Pentagon divisions wanted to interview him.  However, instead of starting an internship, he was hired to work with J26 Warfighter Support Division.

The division knew he was going through the Integrated Disability Evaluation System process, but they worked with him to accommodate his need for a flexible work schedule.  The new opportunity would prove to be life changing for Andrews.

“Injuries aren’t the end of your life,” said Andrews.  “They are a turning point in your life to determine what you want to do next.”

After working with the division for one year, what came next for Andrews was an opportunity to return to the National Defense Agency.  For Andrews, it was an important move.  He now works in strategy and policy at the Intelligence Unit, and feels that he is able to give back to his community, the wounded, ill and injured population.

“OWF is an opportunity, not a handout.  You have to do something with it,” said Andrews. “I am able to contribute in very meaningful ways.”

In 2014, Andrews set out to pursue his doctorate in Management and Homeland Security at Colorado Technical University.  He was awarded a full-time scholarship for wounded, ill and injured Service members.  And rightfully suited, his dissertation is focused on helping managers and leaders help wounded, ill and injured Service members succeed in work organizations.

“This is a population who is very self-motivated,” said Andrews.  “How you maximize them is by touching into their drive.  We need to give the managers and leaders the tools to work with wounded, ill and injured Service members.”

Andrews also offers advice to wounded, ill and injured Service members as they transition through their recovery.

“You get a choice when you get injured,” said Andrews.  “You can sit and look at a wall and think about what once was or you can take that opportunity.  If you still have the drive, there will be an opportunity.  If you’re ready to move to the next stage of your life, OWF will be that doorway.”