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CA Veterans Train To Fight Fires Hoping To Find Jobs

A team of about a dozen California veterans carried hoses up a mountainside in 80-degree heat. They were learning the difficulties of fighting fires in rugged terrain.

Veterans Get Trained By CA Conservation Corps near Sierra foothills town of Auburn.
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Above: Veterans Get Trained By CA Conservation Corps near Sierra foothills town of Auburn.

But for veterans returning home from war, the real difficulty is finding a job.

"Being in a combat arms unit we really have no real outside job in the civilian world," said 21 year old Iraq War veteran Jacob Delaney. "If was not doing this program I really do not know what I'd be doing, really."

Since 1976, the California Conservation Corps has trained young people in environmental and emergency response. Now this program is training veterans to be part of the civilian workforce.

But the Corps' Erin Healy said not everyone will get a job. The Forest Service has only 200 spots open nationwide.

"The pressure is on at this point," commented Healy. "They're all going to compete against each other at this point but I think the forest service has a commitment to bringing in as many eligible folks into the apprentice program as possible."

This is just the opportunity veteran Jason Howerton was looking for, after serving as an army combat medic.

Veterans Learn How to Use Fire Shelters While Training in Sierra Foothills Town of Auburn.
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Above: Veterans Learn How to Use Fire Shelters While Training in Sierra Foothills Town of Auburn.

"I've put in well over 40 or 50 applications just in the past few months, it's really hard to transition your military experience into something marketable for the civilian sector," said Howerton.

Howerton also said even if he doesn't make it with the Forest Service he'll have the training he needs to find another firefighting job somewhere else.

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