Post-9/11 Veterans looking for a career as a wildland firefighter can apply to the Southeast Conservation Corps Veterans Fire Corps program.
Squads work on fire mitigation and fuels reduction projects on public lands, giving back to the surrounding communities. Veterans must be flexible, adaptable and able to work in a fluid, changing work environment.
The program is open to Veterans aged 18-35 who can meet a host of qualifications. Veterans must also pass a three-mile hike with 45 pounds in 45 minutes. Training locations are in LaFayette, Georgia, and Chattanooga, Tennessee. The Georgia program runs Jan. 10 to Sept. 30; the 14-week Tennessee program runs Jan. 10 to April 15.
Southeast Conservation Corps is currently accepting applications, which are open until December or until positions are filled.
Veteran goes from front lines of Syria to front lines of fire
Army Veteran Aaron Conner is a post-9/11 Veteran who took advantage of the program. He served as a field artillery forward observer in the North Carolina National Guard. He was on a deployment to Syria in 2020 when a friend suggested he look into the program.
“I had known a little bit about the job to intrigue me,” Conner said. “The appeal of adventure, danger, hard work and on-the-road lifestyle appealed to me. I knew I would be lost without a purpose once I got out.”
Conner started out in Georgia in the classroom setting, then traveled to different states in the Southeast for prescribed burns. Soon, he found himself in Colorado, Idaho and Oregon for two weeks in each state. He immediately started putting training into action.
“I was initial attack on an engine in Oregon on the Umpqua National Forest,” he said. “There were a lot of lightning starts which grew to become the Devils Knob Complex. We were running and gunning going direct, hiking and sawing interior for hours. It was a good time.”(continue reading)