By Jeffrey Prater, Public Affairs Officer

The 10 Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA), Warfare Center Divisions and their detachments hired more than 250 veterans and Wounded Warriors in fiscal year 2017, helping NAVSEA exceed its hiring goals for the fourth year in a row. More than 700 veterans and Wounded Warriors were hired across NAVSEA and all its activities in FY17, and nearly 3,700 have been hired since the NAVSEA Veteran and Wounded Warrior Program Office (VWWPO) was established in 2009.

Supporting the country’s military heroes and assisting them in continuing to serve their nation in civilian life is part of the Department of the Navy (DoN) Veteran and Wounded Warrior Hiring and Support Initiative which launched in 2010. With the Naval Systems Commands and the Office of Civilian Human Resources leading the effort, the Navy hired 10,609 veterans, 3,433 of whom are Wounded Warriors – combat veterans with disabilities of 30 percent or more – in 2016.

“These men and women are some of the hardest-working, highest-skilled and best-trained people in our country,” said Warfare Center Executive Director Donald F. McCormack. “They are also brave, selfless and unquestionably part of NAVSEA’s effort to have a workforce that is second to none.”

The initiative, which supports the “People” line of effort in NAVSEA’s Campaign Plan to Expand the Advantage, matches veterans with service disabilities to employment opportunities in NAVSEA’s industrial, scientific, contracting and administrative fields.

“Having personally met with hundreds of transitioning service members and veterans as they embark on civilian life, witnessing first-hand their courage and motivating attitude, makes it easy to be passionate in my career,” said Caitlin Williams, NAVSEA’s Veteran and Wounded Warrior Program manager. “Former NAVSEA Commander, Vice Adm. [Kevin] McCoy once said, ‘Who better to serve the warfighter than the warfighter himself?’ The NAVSEA Veteran and Wounded Warrior Program Office wouldn’t be successful without the support from leadership and the field activities that comprise the enterprise.”

One of the many Wounded Warriors still serving is Edward Patnaude, former Air Force avionic section chief and current command records manager at the Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) Division Newport.

Patnaude came to the Warfare Centers by fortunate chance, he said. He was looking for work in the federal government, and after a few interviews with other agencies, he heard about the NAVSEA VWWPO and was encouraged to apply for the position of command records manager at Division Newport. Patnaude said he was more than pleased when he received the call, which meant he would not have to relocate from Rhode Island for work.

“I chose to be a part of the NUWC community because I still had that desire to serve my country and this allowed me that opportunity; after all, I left active duty because I had to, due to my disability, not because I wanted to,” Patnaude said.

Patnaude learned about the NAVSEA VWWPO at a Veterans Employment Center in Rhode Island.

“It feels great knowing that there is a group of veterans to turn to for support and advice,” he said. “These people have gone through similar life experiences and have had to adapt to a new way of life after military service, and as a person returning to civilian life after 15 years of active-duty service, it’s comforting to know I have this resource.”

When NUWC Division Newport determined there was a need for experienced personnel to implement the command’s records management program, “We had to do a nationwide search, and my attitude was that if a veteran met the qualifications, I felt duty bound to pay back what they had done for our country by wearing the uniform,” said John Averill, head of NUWC Division Newport’s Corporate Business Office Division and Patnaude’s supervisor. “In Ed’s case, I got the best of so many worlds … being from the Air Force, his records management knowledge was excellent. Records management is simply a part of their culture. As a veteran, Ed understands how the military works, and he brings that with him as he works with people daily here at Newport.”

Patnaude said one of the things he likes best about his job is the ability to work directly with his counterparts at other NAVSEA command activities.

“We had the opportunity to host our Community of Practice face-to-face [meeting] here at Newport this past March and it was an amazing experience,” he said. “The level of dedication and enthusiasm the members of NAVSEA convey is second to none and I couldn’t be prouder to be a part of this organization.”

Averill said his experience with Patnaude has been extremely positive.

“The fact that he was wounded in service only solidified for me that he is dedicated to serving his country in whatever role that will play,” he said. “Based on this experience, I would not hesitate to hire a veteran or Wounded Warrior.”

NUWC Division Newport, part of the Naval Sea System Command, is one of two divisions of the Naval Undersea Warfare Center. NUWC Division Newport’s mission is to provide research, development, test and evaluation, engineering and fleet support for submarines, autonomous underwater systems, undersea offensive and defensive weapons systems, and countermeasures. NUWC’s other division is located in Keyport, Wash.