Post-9/11 Veterans looking to find a new team have a special opportunity through the Southeast Conservation Corps Veterans Fire Corps (SECC) and its Veteran Fire Corps Program.
SECC is an AmeriCorps-affiliated nonprofit group that engages post-9/11 Veterans by partnering with the U.S. Forest Service Southeast Region, which includes 13 states and Puerto Rico.
SECC started the Veterans Fire Corps program in 2018 and now has Veterans programs with the National Park Service and the U.S. Forest Service. Both programs facilitate intensive training and engage post-9/11 Veterans up to age 35 in fuels reduction, fuels management and wildland firefighting.
The four-month National Park Service program is now open and runs from Jan. 16, 2023, to April 21, 2023. The 10-month U.S. Forest Service program is now open and runs from Jan. 16, 2023, to Oct. 6, 2023.
Paid training and certifications
Veteran Fire Corps crew participants can earn certifications related to fuels management. The program includes courses in firefighting, wildland fires, chainsaws, incident management, first aid and CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation). The U.S. Forest Service and National Park Service Southeast Regions use the Veteran Fire Corps, facilitating opportunities for crew members to work across a variety of districts and landscapes, while simultaneously assisting in forests with many fuels-related needs, including creating fire breaks and prescribed burn work.
The home base for crews of the Veteran Fire Corps is the Conasauga Ranger District of the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest in Georgia and SECC’s office in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Some projects require members to work five days at a time with two days off. Other projects require camping and living on project locations for 8 to 14 days, with a set amount of days off. At no time can members use drugs or alcohol during work-related travel.
In addition to a stipend, members receive paid training and certifications, plus an education award upon program completion. Members also receive food, some fire related gear, and transportation to and from work sites.
Program leads to success in landing a fire-related job
Army Veteran Aaron Conner said he received “invaluable” training through the Veteran Fire Corps program. He graduated in 2021 and was named Corpsman of the Year by The Corps Network. He returned to the program in 2022 as a Veteran fire corps crew leader.
“Once the crew members complete the program, they are able to move into primary fire or other forestry jobs, with certifications to work in wildland fire,” he explained. “The program focuses on training the members to be wildland firefighters, and they can apply for any GS 3-4 position in the U.S. Forest Service.”
“Most of our crew members go into primary fire shops after they complete the program,” he added. “Veterans who complete the program and apply for fire-related jobs have a 100% success rate in landing a position. All of this success is attributed to the willingness of our partners, the National Park Service and the U.S. Forest Service, to provide hands-on training in the field. They also take a hands-on approach when helping our members with resume building and job applications. On top of this, our ability to travel across multiple states exposes our crew members to multiple forest districts. The work we put in and our reputation give way to contacts within those forests who actively seek out our crew members as candidates when they apply for jobs with that forest service.”
Click here to read a full position description and learn more about the Veteran Fire Corps program and SECC. Interested Veterans can also email Jalen Holloway at firstname.lastname@example.org.