Back to Jobs

Exchange supports Operation Warfighter with Career Opportunities

Email Article Print Article Share on Facebook Share on Reddit Share on StumbleUpon

Staff Sgt. Andrew McElroy Jr. was serving as a tracked-vehicle Mechanic/Instructor in the Advanced Leaders' Course at Fort Hood in the summer of 2011 when he was severely injured in a fall.

"I was up on top of an M88 Recovery Vehicle and was pulling a tarp over it because it was starting to rain," said McElroy. "A strong gust of wind caught the tarp and caused me to lose my balance."

The fall resulted in three injured disks in Sgt. McElroy's back as well as a broken wrist.  These injuries meant McElroy could no longer continue serving in his current Military Occupational Specialty or MOS.

Fortunately for McElroy, while being stationed at Fort Hood in the Warrior Transition Unit (WTU), he discovered a program, known as Operation Warfighter (OWF) that provides wounded with an opportunity to try new career fields.

Today, McElroy can be found at the Army & Air Force Exchange Service's world headquarters in Dallas, Tex. As a member of the Human Resources department, he reviews resumes and pre-screens potential hires.

Andrew McElroy is just one example of how the Army and Air Force Exchange Service is actively supporting wounded and injured warriors through the OWF program.  A total of 11 Operation Warfighter's have worked at various Exchange locations including Ft. Hood, Waco Distribution Center, Ft. Carson and Exchange HQ's.

John Perry, a recruiting specialist at the Exchange, explains the program this way:  "We work with the WTU to find troops who are interested in participating in an internship.  It's a win-win arrangement because the employer benefits from having an experienced service member on our staff, and the service member gets to try out life in a corporate environment.  The Exchange is a $10 billion a year operation, so there are lots of opportunities."

McElroy feels the initiative is a big benefit for him and gotten him closer to his family.

"This program has been a fabulous opportunity for me to feel productive again, and to be closer to my family.  My 'Home of Record' is Cedar Hill, Tex. so being stationed in Dallas is a dream come true.  I work half the day at the Exchange and the other half at the Joint Reserve Center in Grand Prairie."

And the job itself has taught McElroy a lot about the hiring process.

"When I first came here, I thought I knew how to write a resume and what would look good to an employer. But now, having read hundreds of resumes, I see what is powerful and works, and what does not work.  So I'm tweaking my own resume, accordingly.

So what's next for McElroy?

"Well, I can't go back to my old job because my wrist and back injuries prevent me from turning wrenches or lifting heavy objects," said McElroy. "But the skills I've learned here at the Exchange have opened up new horizons for me to pursue after my medical board is complete."

Perry encourages service members who are interested in learning about the internship opportunities to contact their WTU commander or first sergeant.

"This is a really fantastic program," said Perry. "Staff Sgt. McElroy does super work for us every day.  He is particularly adept at translating military jargon and backgrounds into terms we can all understand to assess a potential applicant's supervisory or leadership ability. We have also had interns work at our distribution center in Waco which is only about an hour from Ft. Hood, and in Kaiserslautern, Germany. So I would encourage our wounded warriors to contact their leaders and give this program a try. They might just find the career of a lifetime with the Exchange."

comments powered by Disqus