The Veterans Affairs department formally launched its new program designed to train wounded vets to become acquisition professionals with a ribbon-cutting ceremony held Jan. 19 at its Frederick, Md., facilities.
The VA Acquisition Academy Acquisition Internship School’s Warriors to Workforce Program places wounded veterans with disabilities into a three-year internship that provides them with the training and education to qualify for a career as a contracting specialist.
The program “prepares them to become trusted business partners capable of exercising sound business judgment to achieve best value solutions that serve the Veteran,” according to the academy’s website.
Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki spoke at the ceremony, describing the program’s goals as “something very unique” and urging the inaugural class to take advantage of the opportunity. He also noted that the VA is second only to the Education Department in the amount of education provided to citizens.
The three-year program covers training from basic business principles to more technical contracting-specific education.
The first year includes college business classes taught in cooperation with academic partner Mount St. Mary’s University, as well as basic contracting and mental skills training to help deal with the stress often found in the job.
The second and third years’ curriculum is based on the Federal Acquisition Institute’s general business and technical competencies. The interns begin training as GS-5s and upon completion of the training are promoted to GS-11s and placed within VA contracting organizations around the country.
The inaugural class’ interns come from 10 states and four different branches of the military. Between them, they have seven Purple Hearts, two Bronze Stars and 170 years of military service, according to speakers at the ceremony.