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A Wounded Warrior Embraces the New Normal: Part Three

Summary: 
The third of a three-part series that tells the story of a catastrophically wounded service member from his injury to his recovery to his search for employment.

Editorial Note: This is the third in a three part part series (Part One and Part Two) on Master Sergeant (retired) Jeffrey Mittman and his journey from being wounded in Iraq to his employment with the Department of Defense and includes a forward by Major (ret) Arturo R. Murguia.

Today, we close out our series on Army Master Sergeant (ret) Jeffrey Mittman. While we focused on Jeff and his story, there are hundreds of “Jeffrey Mittmans.” They are the young men and woman who decided to give up their personal freedoms because they believed in something greater than themselves and defend our Nation. 

Tragically, in this conflict some have made the ultimate sacrifice, some, like Jeff, have been severely wounded and some carry with them the hidden scars of war. 

This series isn’t just about Jeff –it’s about how wounded warriors like Jeff can make your agency that much more successful by virtue of their experience and the adversity they have faced and overcome. 

Jeff, and veterans like him, is a “force multiplier” –that is, an entity which exponentially raises the effectiveness of its unit. And that is exactly what you will hear from Jaime Charlson, DFAS Organizational Management Office Specialist. Jaime will tell you what wounded warriors like Jeff bring to the table. He will also tell you about the Federal Hiring and Federal Accommodation tools that agencies like DFAS use to bring in talent like Jeff.

It’s been ten years since 9/11. That means the majority of the Armed Forces have enlisted or re-enlisted during a time of war. They could have enjoyed the comforts of family and civilian life. Rather, they decided to pursue the profession of arms and defend our Nation. Now, as these wars scale down, it is our sacred duty to embrace and serve our Nation’s wounded warriors.

Major (ret) Arturo R. Murguia is a Special Assistant in the Office of the Secretary of Defense


Jeffrey Mittman, an Army veteran of 22 years, including four combat tours, was severely wounded when a roadside bomb blast caused injuries to his face, eyes and arm in 2005. While he completed his recovery and transition out of the Army, he earned one master’s degree and started another. He started speaking at events and on Capitol Hill and worked at the National Industries for the Blind.

This January, Jeffrey was hired through the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS)“Hire a Hero Program.” The DFAS Hire a Hero Program is run by a specialized team dedicated to recruiting wounded warriors, expediting the hiring process and ensuring appropriate accommodations are available. 

“Veterans, like Jeff, bring skills to DFAS that we look for in all our employees—leadership, teamwork and mission-focus,” said Jaime Charlson, DFAS Organizational Management Office Specialist. “It is a win-win situation for DFAS and the veteran.”

The DFAS Hire a Hero team works closely with “champions” from more than a dozen DFAS divisions and seven DFAS locations—Indianapolis, Ind.; Columbus and Cleveland, Ohio; Rome, N.Y.; Limestone, Maine; Europe and Japan. DFAS also maintains partnerships with the Department of Defense, the Military Services and nonprofit organizations. DFAS is committed to ensuring that they are an “employer of choice” for Service members who are transitioning to civilian life.

“The Hire a Hero team goes the extra mile to recruit wounded warriors for DFAS,” said Jaime. “We know that wounded warriors have barriers to finding employment. We go above and beyond the USA Jobs process and specialize our recruitment efforts to assist and expedite wounded warrior hiring.”

DFAS utilizes two federal non-competitive hiring authorities allowing disabled veterans to be hired without posting and publicizing the position and without going through the certificate process. Schedule A (5 C.F.R. 213.3102(u)) authority is the direct hiring authority that can be used to hire individuals with disabilities (not exclusive to veterans). The 30 Percent or More Disabled Veteran authorityis the direct hiring authority used to hire disabled veterans who were honorably separated/retired from active military service with a service-connected disability rating of 30 percent or more.

“They sacrificed for us,” said Jaime. “The least we can do is help them find employment and do our part to lower the unemployment rate of veterans.”

The DFAS Equal Employment Opportunity division also works with the Computer/Electronics Accommodations Program (CAP)to provide accommodations to employees with disabilities. For example, accommodationsare available from CAP for wounded Service members with injuries that have caused dexterity impairments, vision and hearing loss, and cognitive issues to ensure resources and assistive devices are available.

“We don’t stop at recruiting wounded warriors,” said Jaime. “We make sure they have the accommodations for a successful and enjoyable working experience.”

To help in DFAS’ recruitment efforts, this February, Jaime and Jeffrey attended the Wounded Warrior Employment Conferenceheld at Fort Belvoir, Va. and participated in the networking and hiring event.

“Jeff is a great addition to the team,” said Jaime. “He is a great employee and person and hiring him was a step in the right direction for DFAS. He is one of those people that you just know will make a positive impact wherever he goes because of his background and capabilities.”

For more information on the DFAS Hire a Hero Program, email hiringheroes@dfas.mil. If a wounded warrior is interested in a position at DFAS, email your résumé, DD Form 214 (Report of Discharge), and a Veterans Affairs letter indicating your service connected disability rating to hiringheroes@dfas.mil.

Read Part One and Part Two of Jeffrey's story.