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Recovering airman finds a new path with OWF support

Image of Air Force Tech Sgt. Adam Grimm  posing for a photo. Air Force Tech Sgt. Adam Grimm’s first mission to Papua New Guinea with Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency as an Explosive Ordnance Disposal tech (Courtesy Photo).

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Internships give recovering service members the opportunity to test out a potential career field.

Within the Defense Health Agency, Operation Warfighter (OWF) allows Recovering Service Members the opportunity to intern with over 200 federal agencies. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Adam Grimm utilized this program, and with the help of his OWF Coordinator, Sandra Ambotaite, interned at Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) and the Department of Veterans Affairs Hawaii.

In 2018, Grimm was introduced to the Air Force Wounded Warrior (AFW2) program after being flagged for Medical Evaluation Board (MEB) review. Prior to this he had served as an explosive ordnance disposal technician. He was moved from his primary specialty, and was in a mobility training program that wasn't utilizing him to his best abilities. Grimm has heard about the OWF program and knew that it could help him find a purpose again. After being accepted into the program, Ambotaite and Grimm began searching for agencies that could help him find a new career and sense of purpose.

After several months of looking for suitable positions, DPAA expressed needing help in their travel office. The DPAA is an agency within the Department of Defense whose mission is to recover our military to their families and the nation. Grimm has had previous missions with DPAA in the past as a bomb tech, and therefore sincerely appreciated their mission.

During his 6-month internship, Grimm had the opportunity to work with military and civilian personnel, helped process DTS orders and vouchers, and learned the importance of meeting deadlines. "For an agency that has a 100+ mission queue at any time, falling behind can affect real world missions" explained Grimm. "I was happy to help their mission."

Air Force Tech Sgt. Adam Grimm and someone he trained while in Afghanistan
Air Force Tech Sgt. Adam Grimm trained local Afghanistan military in explosives during his first deployment to PNG. Two years later, during a second deployment, they ran into each other again (Courtesy Photo). 

Unfortunately, the MEB two-year mark was quickly approaching. With no official job offer from DPAA and the office shutting down due to COVID-19, Grimm reached out again to his OWF coordinator, Ambotaite, to find a new internship opportunity, preferably in the medical field.

During this time, Grimm started taking prerequisite courses for nursing at a local college. "I had been thinking about going into a medical career after service and was hoping to work at the VA clinic on Oahu," Grimm stated.

Ambotaite was able to make that possible, due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, which resulted in the VA seeking extra assistance. During Grimm's time at the VA, he supported the administrative duties while also having the opportunity to shadow many medical offices at the VA clinic and the attached Army hospital.

Grimm explained that his experience there was a great opportunity to see the true side of a new world, the experience allowed him to see that maybe nursing wasn't the right fit for him. "I switched my college path to a master's in social work to start a private counseling practice. I'm on track to graduate in four years and have my own practice in six," Grimm shared.

Opportunities provided through AFW2 and OWF allowed Grimm to become more comfortable in his future and career choices. Grimm shared, "The time out of uniform and in more supportive roles was a huge help to foster my mental transition. In addition, I was able to help other's missions and explore an entire, very complicated, career path and decide the best true fit for me."

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