Hiring and Supporting Disabled Veterans through Operation IMPACT
Michael spent most of his 26-year Marine Corps career as a helicopter pilot, where he sat for hours at odd angles in a vibrating machine. Now, he can be completely still and feel the vibrations of flight within his bones. It conjures fond memories, but has also led to lingering issues—issues he was worried would be difficult for a civilian employer to understand. When he transitioned to civilian life, he needed some assistance. And that’s what Operation IMPACT provides.
Started in 2005, Operation IMPACT (Injured Military Pursuing Assisted Career Transition) is a Northrop Grumman program that helps veterans with service-connected disabilities get hired. It also provides accommodations for already employed veterans with service-connected disabilities. More than 600 veterans have been hired through the program, and it has provided career transition support to more than 20,000.
Operation IMPACT offers resume support, career transition workshops and webinars, career fair support and more. After a disabled veteran has been hired, Operation IMPACT enables them to work more comfortably, no matter what their needs.
“Every day, wounded warriors leave the military after having served our country with distinction,” said Ish, the Operation IMPACT program lead. “We support successful transition to our private-sector company that can jumpstart a new career.”
Mike, a manager of test engineering in Palmdale, California’s instrumentation lab, explained that a service-connected disability isn’t always what people expect. Often, it’s not even visible.
“Everyone can tell when someone has a disability that you can see, like they use a wheelchair or a prosthetic, but that’s actually not the majority,” he said. “Most of it is invisible, from mental health to a really bad shoulder injury that isn’t visible to anybody and might not show up on an everyday basis.”
Every day, wounded warriors leave the military after having served our country with distinction. We support successful transition to our private-sector company that can jumpstart a new career.
Ish, Operation IMPACT program lead
For Mike, long-term stress on his back, shoulders, knees and ankles from flying, training and other exercises makes it difficult to sit for long periods of time. Operation IMPACT connected him with a more ergonomic desk setup, including a special chair, standing desk and keyboard. It also arranged for him to have a conversation with a nurse to assess his needs and an evaluation with an ergonomic specialist. And the program continues to check in on him to see what he needs. “Military service was a physically-demanding, hard life,” he said.
Veterans need to meet the U.S. Department of Veteran Affair’s 30-percent-disabled threshold to qualify for Operation IMPACT. Billy, a retired Navy helicopter pilot, said nearly everyone who served a long career qualifies.
“Most of us who have done 20-plus years in the Navy or any service are going to meet that threshold pretty easily, just with the wear and tear on our bodies over the years,” Billy said. “Many of us have a lot of little things that add up.”
Similar to Mike, Billy met with a nurse through Operation IMPACT, and received recommendations from an ergonomic specialist. Operation IMPACT provided him with an office setup that would ease his back problems.
After attending the U.S. Naval Academy and serving in the Navy for 26 years, Billy said that parts of transitioning to the corporate were overwhelming. He came to work in the defense industry because he felt like it was a continuation of his service and found that Northrop Grumman’s close ties with the military, through its veteran employees and customers, did provide a softer landing.
“Getting out was daunting,” said Billy, who retired as a captain and Maritime Support Wing commander. “It was extremely helpful having other vets who’ve had the same experiences holding your hand and walking you through it.”
With assistance from Operation IMPACT, Billy and Mike know Northrop Grumman cares about veterans and their service-connected disabilities.
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