With over 30 years as an Army combat medic, Billy Ray King saw firsthand the experience of wounded, ill, and injured Service Members as they adapted to their “new normal.” Now he is excited to help them discover new opportunities through internships with federal agencies.
The Office of Wounded Warrior Care and Transition Policy is pleased to welcome Billy Ray King as the new face of Operation Warfighter (OWF) in the Pacific Northwest.
30 Years of Service
Billy Ray King joined the Army when he was 21, and took naturally to his assignment as an Army medic. His military career spanned 30 years and 18 moves around the world, providing numerous opportunities to witness and understand the career lifecycle of a recovering Service member.
In particular, King’s last three assignments put him in touch with wounded warriors and their process of rehabilitation and transition.
At Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, he worked with hundreds of combat-injured warriors at the start of their recovery process, and was moved by their courage and dedication.
When he came to Ft. Lewis as the Command Sergeant Major for Madigan AMC, and then later as Command Sergeant Major for the Western Region Medical Command, King had many chances to be involved with wounded warrior programs.
“I started seeing strategically the evacuation process and the Medical Evaluation Board and Physical Evaluation Board process. We stood up the Warrior Transition Battalion here, and I’ve been on the ground through all that,” King said. “Being involved in the development of the Warrior Transition Battalion really set me up to be innovative and find different ways to help warriors and their families.”
So when he retired in January, King was looking for a way to keep making a difference in the lives of Service members.
A New Challenge: Operation Warfighter
His new position as the Operation Warfighter Coordinator for the Pacific Northwest is the perfect next step. “I’m thrilled to be working with Operation Warfighter,” said King, who began work in the new position at the end of June. “When I saw the job description, I said, ‘That’s exactly what I want to do in my next life.’”
“Even though I’m out of the Army, I’m glad that I can still connect with Service members, and I can still help Service members and their families,” King said.
He will be expanding the Operation Warfighter opportunities for Service members assigned to Wounded Warrior programs at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, including Madigan Army Medical Center, plus the Naval Base Kitsap and the Naval Hospital at Bremerton.
King is already building relationships with federal agencies to create internships for the hundreds of eligible Service members in the area. He will then match warriors with these agencies based on their interests and capabilities to help broaden their horizons.
“Knowing they have the potential to get a really good job when they get out gives these warriors a goal to look forward to,” King said, “and that really helps with their recovery. It means a lot to feel like a contributing member of a team again.”
Having just completed his own career transition, King understands what many recovering Service members are going through as they face the changes ahead.
“Although I had been thinking about retirement for years, when the time came, it was pretty scary,” he said. “If Operation Warfighter can help alleviate some of the stress in any way, it’s worth the project.”
For more information on Operation Warfighter internship opportunities
, contact WarriorCare@osd.mil