Serve Our Country and Mother Nature
United States Environmental Protection Agency
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is the federal agency tasked with establishing and enforcing regulations that protect the air, waters, and land from pollution across the United States and U.S. territories, including Puerto Rico, American Samoa, and Guam. The EPA is headquartered in Washington, D.C., and has 10 regional offices and 13 laboratories. The EPA employs more than 15,000 people.
The agency also partners with state, local, and tribal governments, providing billions of dollars in grants each year to fund their environmental programs and their efforts to enforce federal environmental laws.
The EPA is currently searching for scientists and engineers who can understand emerging issues, establish and maintain effective working relationships with the diverse communities it serves, and work with its partners to find solutions. Veterans understand how to work in a large organization like the EPA and the importance of maintaining national consistency while trying to meet its goals. Each position requires a level of independence and ownership of specific projects while still communicating and working with colleagues across the EPA.
The agency has the authority to hire veterans under the Veterans Recruitment Appointment (VRA) and has traditionally recruited veterans from all branches of service. In the Pacific Southwest regional office – which covers Arizona, California, Nevada, Hawaii, and the Pacific Islands – recent efforts have included the creation of partnerships with local universities. Those institutions are helping the EPA identify men and women who have completed their service, are continuing their education before returning to the work force, and are looking to work in the environmental field.
In 2014, EPA staff attended the Recruit Military Career Fair in Oakland, and it plans to participate in the March 2015 Recruit Military event in San Diego.
A VETERAN SUCCESS | STACY JOHNSON
Stacy Johnson, a human resources specialist with the EPA, says her veteran status opened the door to federal employment. “It gave me the opportunity to come into the federal government,” she said.
Johnson credits the training and discipline she received in the military with her career success. She has worked as a federal employee for 20 years, including five years of military service. “Discipline received from the military helped me move forward and strive to do my best, and maintain respect for all individuals in my career path,” she said. A strong work ethic, reliability, and a desire to do well were traits instilled early during her military career.
Johnson said that veterans should consider a career with the federal government due to the “wide range of opportunities” that are available, including military service credit that counts toward retirement.
A VETERAN SUCCESS | GEORGE RANDELL
George Randell spent eight years in the United States Navy as a nuclear trained machinist mate (MMN), working on a submarine and traveling all over the world. He said the Navy taught him “about structure, organization, and most importantly how to communicate with people from all over the world with respect. It prepares you to collect information, make a decision, and put a plan into action.” After his tour, Randell enrolled at California State University, Sacramento, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering.
Randell first learned about career opportunities with the EPA at a career fair put on by CSU Sacramento. He is now an environmental scientist at the Pacific Southwest Regional Office, working in the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Corrective Action office. His main responsibility is to work on the cleanup of contaminated sites. His job requires gathering environmental data, devising a strategy, and partnering with state government agencies to implement a cleanup plan.
He said that one reason he likes his position at the EPA is that he can see that he is making a difference. “Not only is there the obvious benefit of counting your military service – which means more vacation time, higher pay, and being able to save more for retirement – I have a high level of job satisfaction working on local projects where you can see change,” he said. “You can see the cleanup of a contaminated site and see it transformed, in some cases, into a community park that local residents can enjoy.”
Randell also said that while he enjoyed his time traveling the world with the Navy, he loves working on local issues and learning about environmental issues he did not think about in the Navy.