New Life, New Career for Wounded Warriors: DoD Operation Warfighter Works

Dec. 17, 2010 | By kobylangley
[caption id="attachment_288" align="alignright" width="346" caption="Army Captain Eivind Forseth (Ret.) with fiancé Tara Myers"]
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VIRIN: 101217-N-ZZ098-0288
Today former Army Captain Eivind Forseth is driving across the country to start a new life and new career in California with his fiancé. “We’re both so stoked, we feel like we’re on our way to an amusement park,” Capt. Forseth said from his cell phone on the road. “I’m starting as a program analyst for the Department of the Navy -- all of this is possible because of Operation Warfighter.” Six years ago, Forseth would have envisioned a very different future for himself. As a platoon leader with the 82nd Airborne Division stationed in Mosul, Iraq, he was planning a long career in the U.S. Army.  The Event While on patrol on January 4, 2005, Forseth’s vehicle was hit by an Improvised Explosive Device (IED). Severe injuries to his right arm and right eye landed him at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where he would eventually receive 23 surgeries and years of rehabilitative therapy. The IED explosion changed his life forever, and rehabilitation became his new mission.  A three-letter acronym would not stop his life, or destroy his goals. The “New Normal” and Opportunity Knocking “The docs helped me see that I could probably never go back in my previous capacity,” Capt. Forseth said. “I had planned to be a lifer and retire in the Army. I had a lot of anxiety and depression because I didn’t know what I was going to do or how I would make a living.” After two and a half years at Walter Reed, one day Capt. Forseth saw a piece of paper on the floor and bent over to throw it away. Instead, the flier got his attention: It was an invitation to an Operation Warfighter (OWF) job fair focused on the intelligence community. He hesitantly attended and was surprised by the experience. “I expected them to say, ‘we can’t use you,’ but instead they were very interested,” he said. Capt. Forseth interviewed with several agencies and ended up at the National Reconnaissance Office for six months. Living is the Reality … Thriving is the Goal Capt. Forseth’s internship transformed his reality and helped him embrace the possibility of not just a new life, but a happy life. Forseth got his security clearance, as well as his first experience in an office environment. Equally important, he found comfort and confidence as he discovered the new opportunities that lay ahead. The new mission: Thrive. “I felt this tremendous relief that I would be able to transition, and it was such a comfort and relief to stay in a Defense environment,” he said. “Besides financially and professionally, emotionally Operation Warfighter was fantastic for me.” His internship eventually qualified him for his new job with the Department of the Navy. While in the OWF internship, Capt. Forseth enjoyed his work and had opportunities to give feedback on proposed ideas. “The engineers and scientists really go crazy to get our input on what it’s like on the ground,” he said. “I felt that we wounded warriors were very valuable on certain programs where we were able to give our input.” The work schedule and responsibilities within OWF internships are adaptable to the needs of recovering service members. Recovery is the top priority, so managers allow flexibility for medical appointments and adaptive tools are provided. Based on his own experience, Capt. Forseth is a big believer in the power of Operation Warfighter. By focusing on a goal such as employment during transition, service members can tap into their warrior ethos and sense of mission to pull them through. The New Mission is More then Getting Better, it is Being Better Capt. Forseth wants more recovering service members to learn, as he did, that the skills and knowledge they bring from their military service and experience of recovery are extremely valuable in the government or civilian workforce. They should never sell themselves short. “Service members bring a level of professionalism, dedication to duty, and motivation that you just don’t get from the common employee. Managers and hiring mangers are blown away by the values we bring,” he said. “I always tell other recovering service members that they’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain. Just take the plunge and try it.” Operation Warfighter is offered by the Office of Wounded Warrior Care and Transition Policy for recovering Service members. Mr. Patrick Brick, of the Office of Wounded Warrior Care and Transition Policy has assisted in the administration of the program for the past two years, and has earned the distinction of becoming a critical component of the department's goal to reduce the unemployment rate for transitioning wounded, ill, and injured service members. To learn more about Operation Warfighter, please send an email to warriorcare@osd.mil, and ask for Patrick.  To learn how this, and other programs can fit into your comprehensive recovery care plan, contact your Service's wounded warrior command, or to just share your own story.