Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Ill Gulf War and Other Injured Veterans Get Jobs in Unique Industry Program

According to Newsday:

Written by James Bernstein, columnist

(Newsday, August 26, 2009) -- While on patrol with his Army unit in Afghanistan, Jonathan Claywas hit by a rocket-propelled grenade, leaving him with serious head injuries and a broken back.

Deborah DeCicco served in Iraq during the first Persian Gulf war, breathing in the toxic fumes from oil wells Iraqi troops set on fire. DeCicco later developed breast cancer she said is attributable to the fumes.

Joe Fleming served in Iraq crouched in a Bradley Fighting vehicle. The 6-foot-7 Fleming later developed severe back problems.

They had difficulty finding civilian jobs in the current economy, but are now employed at Northrop Grumman Corp. in Bethpage under a unique program - Operation Impact - that first seeks out injured vets, and then finds jobs for them at the company.

"It's a reverse process," said Northrop Grumman HR manager Ada Palatanik. "We find the people and then we create the jobs."

Clay, 29, of Plainview, DeCicco, 47, of Oceanside, and Fleming, 25, of Massapequa, all work in technical or managerial jobs on a company project to build an unmanned Navy spy plane. In all, Northrop has hired 52 injured vets at its facilities around the country in the last few years.

Northrop Grumman spokesman Tom Henson said the program is just at its beginning. "We're just ramping up," Henson said.

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