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Veterans Train To Become Firefighters

By Rob Scott

MEDFORD, Ore. — Veterans around the country often have a hard time finding work after serving, but a small group of veterans in Southern Oregon are training for a different type of fight.

On Tuesday, the new firefighters, and military veterans, left the classroom, and took to the streets for training and not a moment too soon, as fire season begins at midnight. For their first field exercise, the recruits carried a 45-pound vest while walking 3 miles in less than 45 minutes. All ten are working to become firefighters for the Bureau of Land Management.

These vets are among the two veteran crews established this year in Oregon. The other is in Klamath Falls. Some of these veterans have served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, but have been unemployed since returning from overseas. This opportunity allows them to have a smooth transition and use some of their skills from the military.

The veteran crew will be used to work fires ranging from those less than an acre in size to large fires that last days or weeks. The veterans will be training as well as working alongside fire crews all summer, which could be important as ODF expects fire season to heat up in August and September.