Combat Veteran Dustin Wood completed the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Veterans Curation Program in 2019. Joining the paid five month employment and training initiative, says Wood, “is the best decision I have ever made.”
Dustin Wood, Veterans Curation Program grad, processes historical records as an Imaging Specialist with Na Ali’i. Photo by Daniel Zoernig.
Wood and his family were living in Milwaukee, Wisc., when he was accepted into the Veterans Curation Program (VCP). He made the difficult choice to temporarily separate from them to participate at the St. Louis, Mo., location.
Through the VCP, Wood began the journey to receive professional growth and development assistance. That time included instruction for resume building and job searches while learning to process at-risk archaeological collections belonging to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The program also comes with a paycheck.
A New Mission
After successfully finishing the Veterans Curation Program, Wood started a new job with Na Aliʻi, a Nakupuna Foundation company.
Amanda McGuire, Na Ali’i’s deputy project manager in Overland, Mo., is another Marine who has completed the Veterans Curation Program. Hiring other Veterans who are already processing historical artifacts with VCP is a win/win situation for Na Ali’i. Recognizing the potential in Wood and many others who went through the Veterans Curation Program, Na Ali’i employs several Veterans in their offices. Currently, one of Na Ali’i’s projects is processing Veteran records for the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency. That work includes preserving and organizing files of deceased Veterans, mainly from the WWII and Korean War eras who are classified as KIA (killed in action), MIA (missing in action) or Prisoners of War (POW), is Wood’s new mission.
“It hits a chord with me. You know, we lost guys when I was overseas and I can just imagine how the families of these people are over 50 years later, wondering what happened to their loved ones. The Veterans Curation Program gave me the skills to preserve, photograph and protect these precious items. Being able to digitize and catalog them for the Nation and their families through my job at Na Ali’i means so much to me.” -Dustin Wood, Na Ali’i Imaging Specialist II and combat Veteran
Best Decision Ever
Wood has now been with Na Ali’i for over six months, already earning a promotion and a special award. His family is reunited with him in St. Louis, the kids are loving their new schools, and his fiance found a new job with VA. It all started with an online search for “archaeology for Veterans,” leading Wood to new skills and a new career.
Due to overwhelming response on the last blog, Assistant Lab Manager Kimberly Blanke said the Veterans Curation Program received more qualified applicants than ever before.
The Veterans Curation Program is now hiring
The VCP has four flagship lab locations that are currently hiring (in addition to three additional satellite labs that can be found here):
Veterans can be considered for both part- and full-time employment. Overtime is not permitted and the period of employment by the program is expected to last up to five months. All federal holidays are paid in addition to up to one week of personal time off, which can be used for medical appointments or other purposes.
Hiring is now open for the next training session that begins May 2020.
For more on the Veterans Curation Program and to apply, visit: https://veteranscurationprogram.org/.