Yonnes Sanders Posted by Katie Hamlin - August 25, 2013

Yonnes Sanders

Life on the other side: Injured Marine transitions

‘I will never find a job. The hiring process is taking longer than I anticipated. I already have too much stress.’ Many wounded, ill and injured Marines express these same feelings as they face numerous difficulties transitioning to the civilian workforce. Despite a Marine’s years of leadership experience, many find it challenging to prepare for interviews or write a resume and cover letter.

“I never had an interview before,” said Marine veteran Staff Sgt. Yonnes Sanders. “The Marine Corps was my first job. So it was important for me to take a resume writing class and learn how to network.”

Sanders sustained an injury in 2009 while playing basketball. After years of living with constant pain he, tragically learned that he had degenerative disc disease. The pain was so bad that it began to interfere with his work and other daily activities. His surgeries seemed to occur one after another and toward the end of his Marine Corps career, Sanders began to feel the stresses of moving on.

“I got more stressed when I was leaving and I found out I had to have another surgery. Finding a job was not happening as fast as I thought it would.”

With a little support and patience, Sanders is now working for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as a support specialist. “I found this job through the Wounded Warrior Regiment’s [transition cell]. They send job [opportunities] to wounded warriors. They sent me the position at FEMA. I sent my resume [to FEMA] and they called me the next day to interview.”

Sanders has worked at FEMA for four weeks supporting the information technology department by tracking individual’s personal information during natural disasters.

FEMA and other federal agencies can hire disabled veterans with a 30% (or more) disability rating through the Schedule A (5 C.F.R. 213.3102(u)) hiring authority, a non-competitive hiring appointment. According to FEMA’s wounded warrior hiring webpage, “this is a “win-win” process for both the job applicant and FEMA in that it enables the Agency to rapidly hire qualified veterans without going through the lengthy competitive recruitment and hiring process.”

FEMA is one of the many organizations where the Wounded Warrior Regiment’s transition cell sends wounded, ill and injured Marines resumes directly to the hiring manager. The transition cell also assists Marines by connecting them with government and private employers, identifying education and job training resources, and providing interview, resume and job application tips.

“A lot of people expect others to do the work for them. Don’t feel sorry for yourself. It’s not going to be given to you just because of your situation,” said Sanders. “Have patience, it is a process. Use every avenue you have because there are a lot of resources and help.”

Some other resources available to transitioning Marines include Marine For Life, Hiring our Heroes and InTransition. In order to better himself, Sanders plans on going back to school to pick up some additional courses in his field. Through the transition cell Marines can receive information on numerous financial aid options including the GI Bill, Federal Student Aid, Federal and State grants, scholarships and work study programs.

Established in 2007, the Marine Corps Wounded Warrior Regiment was created to provide and enable assistance to combat and non-combat wounded, ill, and injured Marines, and sailors attached to or in direct support of Marine units and their family members in order to assist them as they return to duty or transition to civilian life. The Regimental Headquarters, located in Quantico, Va., oversees the operations of two Wounded Warrior Battalions located at Camp Pendleton, Calif., and Camp Lejeune, N.C., as well as multiple detachments in locations around the globe.

For more information about the Wounded Warrior Regiment, please visit www.woundedwarriorregiment.org, http://facebook.com/wwr.usmc, or call the Sgt. Merlin German Wounded Warrior Call Center 24/7 at 877-487-6299.

For more information about the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s wounded warrior hiring process please go to: http://www.fema.gov/wounded-warriors