Defense Finance Chief meets with Fort Hood wounded warrior inter

Defense Finance and Accounting Services Director Teresa McKay visits with wounded warriors at the Fort Hood Military Pay Office who are participating in the agency’s “Hire a Hero” internship program. From left, McKay, Spc. Jeremy Hudson, Spc. Brett Robinson-Lopez and Staff Sgt. Sonia Torres-Britton. Robinson-Lopez and Torres-Britton are assigned to the Warrior Transition Brigade while Hudson is attached to the 1st Cavalry Division.

Several Warrior Transition Brigade soldiers interning with Fort Hood’s Military Pay Office experienced a work-site morale booster recently when the director of the organization in charge of all military and retiree pay met with them to evaluate the internship program, as well as to thank them for their contributions to the multibillion-dollar organization.

“We’re happy to have you,” said Teresa McKay, Defense Finance and Accounting Service director, who praised the soldiers for their willingness to “go outside the box to do this with us.”

She said the program benefits both the agency and the soldiers.

“We’re gaining as much out of it as you are. It’s a win-win situation for both of us,” McKay said.

McKay met with the interns, as well as brigade leaders Jan. 10, specifically to evaluate the service’s “Hire a Hero” program, which provides job training and mentorship to wounded, ill and injured soldiers by meshing their career goals with occupational tasking. The Fort Hood program, which began in August, is the third major installation Armywide to participate in the agency’s program.

“I am interested in your perspective on how things are working for you, and how we can do things differently to serve you better,” she told the trio of soldiers who said they were grateful for the opportunity to provide feedback to the agency’s director.

“It was awesome for her to come out here to meet us,” said Staff Sgt. Sonia Torres-Britton, Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, who started her internship Dec. 3. “It shows (the service) really cares about us.”

The military pay technician is working with the military pay accounts of wounded warriors coming back from downrange and was glad to learn that the agency’s goal is long-term employment. She said she hopes to segue from intern to permanent hire.

“I wasn’t sure if the job opportunities were just local,” she said, after hearing McKay talk about the worldwide career fields available to them. “I’m glad to know that we can branch out and be employed elsewhere.”

Spc. Brett Robinson-Lopez, Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, was one of the first brigade interns assigned to the internship program.

Skeptical at first about how his military occupation skills would translate into a finance organization, the systems administrator is now glad that he chose the accounting service over an information technology-oriented organization.

“I always thought (the service) was just about finance, but this really is a better place for my skills set,” he said, adding that he was already familiar with some of the software the agency is using. “I still get to do what I used to do before I got into the (brigade).”

For Spc. Jeremy Hudson, who is assigned to 1st Calvary Division, the internship is an opportunity to give back.

“Being a wounded warrior myself, I am able to give back to my fellow colleagues,” he said.

“They are very understanding about working with us when we have our appointments,” said the network operator turned military pay technician. “They have been behind me 100 percent, which is helping me to smoothly transition to a professional career.”

Echoing Hudson’s words, Robinson-Lopez added that the job has been great for him because of the transition opportunities.

“So many soldiers don’t have a plan,” he said. “Then one day they wake up, and the paychecks have stopped. This internship is a great program that allows you to continue working for the government once you get out. I’m very grateful for that opportunity.”

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