By Rose L. Thayer

Fort Hood Herald

The Association of the United States Army, with the help of Automax, donated a 15-passenger Ford van to the Warrior Transition Brigade last week during a ceremony outside Fort Hood National Bank.

The van will allow the brigade to expand its internship program, Operation Warfighter, which puts the brigade's soldiers in six-month internships at federal agencies as they prepare to transition out of the Army, said Maj. David Shoupe, public affairs office for the brigade.

"It gives real world experience in a job and allows them to transition into the next stage of their life," said Shoupe.

Since the program began two years ago, 200 soldiers have taken part in the program. Currently, two vans bring 29 soldiers to work 20 to 30 hours a week at agencies in Austin, such as the Internal Revenue Service.

With this new van, program staff will be able to bring soldiers to work at the Army Air Force Exchange Services distribution center in Waco.

"This will allow us to provide the opportunity to more soldiers and bring the Army values into the workplace," said Col. John Kolessar, brigade commander.

Ron Taylor, state-level president of AUSA, said it was their honor to be able to give back to wounded warriors.

"It's our way to give back say thanks to the soldiers who have sacrificed so much on our behalf," said Taylor.

To Shoupe, this is just another example of what makes Fort Hood the Great Place.

"To see the van and the fact that it's donated by AUSA and Central Texas - Fort Hood is not just a place to be stationed, it's a home. It shows that we're 10 years into the war and they still care," said Shoupe.

Contact Rose L. Thayer at or (254) 501-7463. Follow her on Twitter at KDHreporter.

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