Local News

Program helps injured soldiers find new careers

Posted June 8, 2010 12:50 p.m. EDT
Updated June 8, 2010 5:57 p.m. EDT

— A pilot program launched in North Carolina is helping severely wounded veterans find new careers.

The National Organization on Disability's Wounded Warrior Careers Program has been meeting with injured soldiers from Fort Bragg this week.

Former U.S. Army paratrooper James Howard, 30, was one of the many soldiers who attended Tuesday’s event at the Holiday Inn Bordeaux. He served a year in Iraq and was deployed to New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

A diving accident between deployments two years ago left Howard paralyzed.

“(I) dodged everything overseas and all the close calls there and throughout life and got into a lake accident,” he said.

Howard’s injuries forced him out of the Army. With training as a civil engineer, he's now trying to chart a new career for himself through the Wounded Warrior Careers Program.

“We think that even the most severely disabled soldiers coming back home from the war are capable of contributing to the community,” said Carol Glazer, president of the National Organization of Disability.

Glazer said the program’s goal is to simplify what can be an overwhelming process.

“We take them by the hand and, most importantly, we help them to pursue a career,” Glazer said.

Howard said the program has made life easier for him and his fiancee, Anne.

“They took a personal interest in taking care of me and Anne, sat on my back porch with me, not only involved in the job aspect, but life in general,” Howard said.

Howard, who has a civil engineering degree, said counselors polished his resume.  He plans to take a couple of courses and hopes for a project management job.

The Wounded Warrior Careers Program will continue meeting with soldiers on Wednesday at the Holiday Inn Bordeaux.

The privately-funded program, which also operates in Texas and Colorado, has been helping veterans for about two years. Organizers said they hope to secure federal funding to expand programs into other areas.