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Gain Work Experience with Operation Warfighter

Operation Warfighter Logo

Getting involved in meaningful work can aid in both the physical and psychological healing process for service members in recovery. Operation Warfighter is a federal internship program that places recovering active-duty service members and National Guard and reservists currently in a medical hold status in supportive work settings. By focusing on new opportunities and strengthening job skills, service members can bolster their recovery while gaining valuable work experience. This article highlights information about Operation Warfighter and offers tips and resources for service members who wish to apply.

About Operation Warfighter

Operation Warfighter provides the opportunity for service members to build their resumes, explore different job positions, obtain formal and on-the-job training and gain valuable federal government work experience. By partnering with Operation Warfighter, federal employers have a unique opportunity to connect with recovering service members and learn about their needs and challenges, as well as benefit from their skill sets, motivation and strong work ethic.

Operation Warfighter has placed more than 2,000 service members in internships with more than 105 different federal agencies and sub-components.1,2 The internships are available in a wide range of areas, including human resources, security, operations and administration. The length of an internship is approximately 20 hours per week for three to five months, and service members receive military salaries for the duration of the internship. Flexible work schedules are available so that service members can follow their medical treatment plan and make any necessary medical appointments. Additionally, government agencies have locations across the nation, so matches can be made that allow service members to participate in an internship location close to their current duty station.3

After completing an internship through the Operation Warfighter program, service members can return to duty or decide to transition into civilian life. Some service members who transition into the civilian workforce decide to make a job with the federal government their new career path. As a result of their internship experience through Operation Warfighter, approximately thirty percent of participants are hired for a full-time federal job.4 While participating in the program does not guarantee permanent employment with a federal agency, it can help service members establish key relationships and skill sets that may lead to future employment opportunities.

How to Participate in Operation Warfighter

To qualify for participation in Operation Warfighter, service members must be U.S. citizens serving on active duty. To find an internship, or to make one available to recovering service members, please contact osd.pentagon.ousd-p-r.mbx.operation-war-fighter@mail.mil. The following steps outline the Operation Warfighter matching process:2

  1. Service member obtains "medical and command approval" from his or her recovery team and chain of command, certifying that they are ready and able to participate in Operation Warfighter.
  2. An Operation Warfighter Coordinator assists in identifying an internship opportunity based on the service member's interests and capabilities.
  3. Once a placement is agreed on, the Operation Warfighter Coordinator works with the recovering service member and the employer to obtain security clearances, workplace accommodations and transportation assistance, if needed.
  4. The Operation Warfighter Coordinator, along with the service member's recovery team, stays in contact with the recovering service member and the employer throughout the placement to collect monthly feedback and ensure that there is no negative medical impact to the service member.

Typically, a resume is used to match the service member's work experience to prospective federal agencies. For tips and resources on communicating your military experience to federal agencies and other potential employers through your resume, read the Real Warriors Campaign article, Translating Military Experience to Civilian Employment.

The Operation Warfighter program is a great way for recovering service members to gain work experience and focus on new opportunities that can positively impact their physical and psychological healing process. For more information about employment resources and educational opportunities for recovering service members, visit the Defense Department's Wounded Warrior Education and Employment Initiative.

Additional Resources


1 "Operation Warfighter," Defense Department's Office of Warrior Care Policy. Last Accessed Nov. 24, 2015.
2 "Operation Warfighter Fact Sheet," [PDF 644.87KB] Military OneSource. Last accessed Nov. 24, 2015.
3 "Be Part of Operation Warfighter," [PDF 173.45 KB] Military OneSource. Last accessed Nov. 24, 2015.
4 Herring, Nate. "Federal agencies meet to discuss Operation Warfighter." U.S. Army Public Affairs. Published on July 17, 2012.

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