American Dream Dev.
PO Box 1345
Junction City, KS 66441
Fort Riley Signs Agreement with Non-Profit Foundation to Place Warriors in Transition into Internships at Local Businesses
JUNCTION CITY, Kansas – January 23, 2008 – The Army signed an agreement today with the Welcome Home to Heroes Foundation to start a regional program that will place Fort Riley soldiers with medical disabilities in internship positions with local businesses.
The Warriors Internship Network (Project WIN) is a non-profit program to help soldiers who could possibly be leaving the military due to health reasons start a new civilian career, while encouraging them to remain in the local community. The effort at Fort Riley, which will begin on Feb. 1, could serve as a model for similar programs throughout the military.
It will be administered by the Welcome Home to Heroes Foundation and the Army's Soldier and Family Assistance Center (SFAC) in conjunction with the newly stood-up Warrior's in Transition Battalion (WTB).
"It is the mission of the 1st Infantry Division and Fort Riley leadership to ensure these WTB soldiers' transitions are completed with dignity and focus on their individual and family needs," said Maj. Gen. Robert E. Durbin, Commander, 1ID, Fort Riley.
"The WTB, the SFAC and project WIN are the Army's way of making right the failures that have occurred in the past," said Durbin. In closing, Durbin exemplified the Division motto of, "No mission too difficult, no sacrifice too great."
The Welcome Home to Heroes Foundation is a regional non-profit organization originally established to assist soldiers, firefighters, police, teachers and other "heroes" in the community by contributing to the down payment on their first home. The foundation has hired regional business leader Cheryl Lyn Higgins as its executive director.
"Workforce development has always been a passion for me," said Higgins, who will begin working with various businesses and industries to identify internship opportunities and establish a "job bank" for the program. "Our region is experiencing tremendous growth and we need the manpower to sustain it.
This program gives us another way to retain a skilled workforce."
"It's a phenomenal opportunity for soldiers, the community and the foundation - there is no loser in this deal," said Jeff Burton, president of American Dream Development and a founder of Welcome Homes to Heroes, who introduced the concept of local internships to Fort Riley officials in December.
The timing was perfect. Army officials at Fort Riley were ready to launch a new unit called the Warriors in Transition Battalion (WTB), which is composed of soldiers undergoing medical evaluation or rehabilitation. The two initiatives were a natural fit and the Army welcomed the community-based program with open arms.
"In my 11 years of working with the military, I have never seen a door open so fast and so wide," said Gary Drake, president of Sunflower Bank, who serves on the board of the Welcome Home to Heroes Foundation.
"Within 30 days, we had a memorandum of understanding and the initial pilot program is ready to launch."
To be eligible for a Project WIN internship, interested soldiers must be selected by the WTB commander and undergo training to assess current skills, develop a resume and learn basic job seeking skills. The pilot program will involve 10 soldiers over the next two months, during which the process will be evaluated and streamlined before it is made available to all interested soldiers who qualify.
The duration of an internship, as well as the required hours, will be based on a soldier's availability and health limitations, as well as the needs of the business involved. Since the soldiers are still on active duty, they will receive no pay from the business, but receive valuable job training and business experience. Each internship will be evaluated on a regular basis and can be terminated by either party.
"This is one of the most rewarding undertakings I've ever been involved with. Setting soldiers up for success after they and their families have sacrificed so much gives an unparalleled sense of satisfaction," said Lisa Mathews, director of the Soldier Family Assistance Center (SFAC) at Fort Riley.
The civilian side of the program will be funded through donations from participating businesses, which will be used for administrative expenses and to help soldiers who want to remain in the community get on their feet once they leave the service. Although the details have not been finalized, such efforts could include new business loans, financial assistance with a down payment on a new home or support for the families of soldiers involved in the program.
|About American Dream Development
American Dream Development is a private, regional development company that builds attractive homes and communities for a reasonable price that fit the lifestyle of working families throughout eastern Kansas. The company is committed to solid, sustainable growth and the integration of residential and commercial development with parks and amenities to create thriving planned communities. For more information, visit www.adreamdev.com.