Post 9-11 Veterans looking for a career as a wildland firefighter can apply to the Southeast Conservation Corps Veterans Fire Corps program.

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.”

Advice for others

Not wanting to fall into a trap of not having purpose, Conner said becoming a woodland firefighter has changed his life.

“This past year I spent on the Veterans Crew has allowed me to figure out what I want out of life,” he said. “As a National Guard guy, I spent a bit of time bouncing around a ton of civilian jobs when I wasn’t trying to go on as many details I could find. This is the first time in my life outside of enlistment that I knew I belonged to a profession. I feel at home when I am gone and on the fireline. I love the job and don’t want to do anything else.”

Conner said one of the biggest benefits of being a woodland firefighter is performing a job that matters for Americans – much like serving in the military. Veterans thinking about applying should not hesitate.

“Just go ahead and apply,” he said. “I want you serving with me, the wildland fire community wants you and most importantly, your country needs you. The level of fires have exponentially grown this year. There are not enough people to fight the countless fires that occur every year. If you are looking for a sense of duty then this is for you.”

Benefits to joining

Veterans earn a weekly salary while training and an AmeriCorps Education Award upon successfully completing the program.

Members also earn the following trainings and certifications:

  • S130: Firefighter Training
  • S190: Intro to Wildland Fire Behavior
  • S212: Wildland Fire Chainsaws
  • I 100: Introduction to Incident Command System
  • IS 700: Introduction to the National Incident Management System
  • L 180: Humans Factors in Wildland Fire Service
  • First Aid/CPR certificates
  • Members must pass the Arduous Work Capacity (PACK) Test within the first two weeks of the season to participate in this program.

About Veterans Fire Corps

The Veterans Fire Corps is collaborative initiative run in partnership with state and federal agencies including the U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management and the Corporation for National and Community Service. The Veterans Fire Corps engages recent-era Veterans on priority hazardous fuels projects while developing the next generation of wildland firefighters.

Learn more and apply

To read a full position description and learn more about the Veterans Fire Corps program and Southeast Conservation Corps, visit these links:

Interested Veterans can also email or

By Air Force Veteran Adam Stump is a member of VA's Digital Media Engagement team.

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Published on Oct. 19, 2021

Estimated reading time is 3.7 min.

Views to date: 1,289


  1. Shawn STRVE Kel October 21, 2021 at 7:36 pm

    As a 87 year-old Korean War veteran, I am shocked and appalled that nobody wants me fighting fires in the woods while carrying a pack. I fought for your freedom and I demand my own. GObBLESS

    -sent from my Dewalr popcorn maker

  2. Sgt October 21, 2021 at 2:29 pm

    More bro vets complaining about vet stuff on a message board that no one monitors. Instead of complaining behind a keyboard to each other for validation, contact someone who can actually help. And if you are 50 and in better shape than a 20 y/o, they probably don’t want that 20 y/o either.

  3. Joe Mama October 21, 2021 at 2:05 pm

    The age cutoff should be removed completely, if you can meet/exceed the standard that’s the qualification. I’m 40 10 year veteran and can eat 18-25 year olds for breakfast in a variety of PT assessments

  4. Tough luck October 21, 2021 at 10:56 am

    There is an age cut off because they don’t want you geriatric veterans having a heart attack while hiking 10+ miles in the wilderness in the middle of the summer and then having to airlift you out. There’s a reason why recruiters recruit out of high schools and not adult Ed schools.

    This is also an ENTRY level job. You already had a career, or had your chance at a career and lost it.

    • Joseph Lawrence Hughes October 21, 2021 at 9:17 pm

      Hello tough luck. I’m a 53 year old vet. 10 yrs service, plus 20 in construction. I have walked 12 miles in under 3 hrs with more weight more times than I care to recall. Infantryman. Eod. Engineer(mgb). I ride downhill mountain bike, ride said same bike 20 miles on the road. Long and the short of this story is I’m probably in better shape than your punk ass, with 10 times the experience and wisdom of age. And what, a man can’t have more than one career? I would love the opportunity to outperform you in this just to see the look on your ignorant millennial face as I do. Sorry kid, but you can suck it.

      • Tough luck October 24, 2021 at 10:14 am

        We both know that entry requirements do not reflect job requirements.

        Wow! You can walk for 12 miles under 3 hours with a backpack! Congrats! You want an entry level job that’s designed for the fitness requirements of an 18-25 year old. Your 53 year old body can’t handle what an 18-25 year old body can.

  5. Steve Sisskin October 21, 2021 at 10:23 am

    I’m 42 yrs old. Are there any types of age waivers?

  6. Mike October 21, 2021 at 10:12 am

    I’m a full time FF in CO. We deploy nationally, I complete my pack test every year. Well under the 45. Cert ‘s include ENG boss, , crew boss. Working on TF task book now. I’m 48 and a veteran. Why the age requirement ???

  7. Eric D FERGUSON October 21, 2021 at 12:21 am

    Age discrimination

  8. James Chatham October 20, 2021 at 11:26 pm

    I’m 74 and currently on Urbana Missouri fire dept. Why the age gap requirement there?? I do all this on a regular basis and have been doing so since boot camp in 1964. Was firefighting instructor in Nsvy w Fire Marshal certification. Been to numerous refresher trainings since. If u r interested in picking me let me know. Thx

  9. Julian October 20, 2021 at 11:09 pm

    Why is the cut off age at 35. I am 51 and I’m in great shape. I am also a 24 year veteran.

  10. Curtis October 20, 2021 at 10:54 pm

    Do you have to get the Gain of Function Spike Protein Gene Therapy Jab to qualify?

    • Wanda October 21, 2021 at 2:20 pm

      I’d like to know the answer to this as well…..especially for those active duty members that are choosing not to take the jab….and currently in firefighter positions

  11. Christopher Sellari October 20, 2021 at 10:30 pm

    I’m a 48 year young retired Army Green Beret. I am in fantastic shape. Are there age waivers for this fire fighter program?

  12. Frank October 20, 2021 at 9:40 pm

    Does the job pay or is this a volunteer position?

  13. Travis Taylor October 20, 2021 at 8:50 pm

    How about creating a dating website exclusively for veterans this is something I have not seen or heard of through the PA whatsoever. Just a thought to create a tighter knit among veterans.

  14. Timothy Tate October 20, 2021 at 8:30 pm

    It’s Wildland Firefighter, not woodland.

  15. Ranger Joe October 20, 2021 at 7:29 pm

    Post-9/11 vet ONLY opportunities once again……

    Why are you/they discriminating against pre-911 vets? Maybe older yet more experienced. Maybe older but willing to push ourselves harder to prove ourselves or stay up with the “kids”.

    Is it that you do not want the maturity or leadership capabilities of those with more life experience? Or is it just age discrimination? Trying to push the “older” ones out of the work force?

    I am a highly decorated Desert Storm US Army Dustoff medic and have worked civilian EMS since 1978 (except for the 4 years active duty 1989-1993) and am still active and working alongside and above and beyond some of the current younger generation who tend to be less patient and have much less life experience and are much less willing to go to their capabilities when necessary…veterans excepted.

    Unfortunately due to your age discriminatory application filter, like many other jobs in the field, I will not be given equal and fair chance to apply or stand with others in the process.

    Too old to be considered, too young and active to retire. Great time to be alive! No wonder suicide is such an appealing answer to those of my and earlier generation vets.

    Those targeted as post-9/11, take note, do your job/career moves early in life because once you reach that mid-40 or 50 year age group, you too will be one of us. Many applications, a few interviews, job offers only to the young, They are very careful not to admit that it is about your age….and experience means largely nothing in today’s work force. As far as federal job opportunities, one cannot even apply once in that golden age group or above….Be warned!

    It isn’t about retirement, either because if one were hired at age 50 or 55 they likely would leave the job (depending on the job) before their 20 year anniversary or their 65th year of life so you would think the advantage of saving on retirement payments and the gaining of life and likely job experience would be of benefit but no longer…..Younger in/ older, out to pasture asap.

    • brandon brboo October 21, 2021 at 10:14 am

      I’m a 12 year vet I was a career firefighter and Philadelphia for several years before moving out the Idaho. Apparently in Idaho they don’t really have respect for inner city career firefighters I can’t even find a firehouse out here to let me volunteer if I provided all my own equipment and my own insurance. They just won’t let me fight fires out here is there any way I could volunteer in this program? I just want to fight fires.

  16. SPC October 20, 2021 at 5:53 pm

    The greatest veteran I have ever met, what a cool Syrian war vet.

  17. Allyn T Camp October 20, 2021 at 5:41 pm

    Why is there age cut off, I’m in better shape than some 18 -35 year olds.

Comments are closed.

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