For many service members, their fight doesn’t end when they leave the military.
BAE Systems’ Warrior Integration Program assists post-9/11 combat-wounded, -injured, or -ill service members transition into civilian life with a new career that translates their military leadership into corporate leadership. Now in its eleventh year, WIP provides its team members a multitude of career training opportunities, including manufacturing, business, development, supply chain, planning, quality, engineering support, project management and value stream positions.
One of the benefits of WIP is its flexibility for its program members, who could still be seeking medical care for their time in theater.
“A lot of the members over the years are in continuous rehab and physical therapy,” WIP Manager Alan Kenneally said.
Kenneally himself is a graduate of the program. The Army veteran did two tours in Iraq before being injured in combat in 2008. After two years in rehab, Kenneally joined the program and eventually took over as its leader. He said that he remembers what it was like to plan a career as a Soldier and suddenly have to pivot to a new reality.
“We are not in uniform anymore but we are providing products to friends still in the service,” Kenneally said, adding that the program gives its members a purpose that they thought they would never have again after leaving the military.
WIP identifies individual job skills acquired through military experience and applies them to different disciplines in the company. BAE Systems assigns each program member a sponsor who will work with and coach the member through the 3- to 4-year program and afterwards. It is structured in rotational assignments that include on-the-job technical and leadership training and opportunities, career development and planning, advanced education opportunities exposure to BAE Systems’ diverse workforce, networking opportunities, and veteran resources.
“We all got out of the service and some of us got into dead-end jobs – not where we wanted to be in life,” Kenneally said. “Some individuals were struggling. Now these people are helping and assisting running programs and have 15-25 people underneath them … now they have a solid career.”
Tom Block is a current Warrior Integration Program team member and subcontract administrator II. The Army veteran was injured in combat in 2013 and subsequently medically retired. After leaving the Army, Block went to work for the Department of Homeland Security working with child exploitation crimes. As a parent, Block said that the job was very difficult on him mentally and he knew that he needed to take his career in a different direction.
“What is great about the WIP is that … I don’t need to be a college graduate on paper, the program is built around military experience,” Block said. “It takes the job-transferrable skills of combat veterans and puts them in the workplace. And it gives you the opportunity to perform.”
Block agreed with Kenneally that the program provides its members “the feeling that you get for still being useful and supporting your buddies who are still in the fight. I still have guys who I joined with that are still in regiment and are still using some of the systems that we are putting out.”
With BAE Systems’ expansion in Huntsville including a new facility in Cummings Research Park, the program is also expanding locally and Director of the Huntsville Business Center and Site Executive Joe Wasley welcomes applications from combat veterans of all military branches. Wasley said that the program is a great opportunity for veterans to work for an international company and grow their careers.
While WIP does cross-train in multiple jobs and skills, it is not an internship. Kenneally wants veterans to know that once a new hire starts the program, they will be a full member of the workforce.
“We look for the men and women who put their hand up,” Kenneally said.
For more information about current opportunities in BAE Systems’ Warrior Integration Program, visit their website at https://jobs.baesystems.com/global/en/job/63532BR/Warrior-Integration-Program.