For the Latest News

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Tulsa District News

Operation Warfighter, a Tulsa District success story

Public Affairs
Published Dec. 12, 2013
Bill Smiley, chief, Tulsa District Emergency Management and Security Office, and Geza Horvath, Tulsa District’s Operation Warfighter program manager, confer in the Emergency Operations Center.

Bill Smiley, chief, Tulsa District Emergency Management and Security Office, and Geza Horvath, Tulsa District’s Operation Warfighter program manager, confer in the Emergency Operations Center.

TULSA, Okla. — The Tulsa District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, brought on board its first soldier under the Operation Warfighter program in February of 2009.  It was then mistakenly referred to as the Wounded Warrior Program; a civilian volunteer organization to help returning wounded veterans. 

Operation Warfighter program has helped a number of veterans of combat or service connected injuries complete their medical transition and either return to duty or receive an honorable discharge.

Michael Maag, the Regional Coordinator for the program based in San Antonio, Texas said, “Basically it is a federal internship program for wounded, ill, and injured service members. Operation Warfighter puts service members in supportive work settings that positively impact their rehabilitation. It’s a great program, but it has one drawback. I have over 200 service members looking for a position.  We need more federal positions open to them.”

Geza Horvath, Tulsa District’s Operation Warfighter program manager said that’s where the Tulsa District comes in.  “We offer a chance for returning veterans to recuperate at or near their homes instead of being separated from their families while awaiting the final disposition of their cases.”

“Because they are still receiving military pay, they can work for any federal agency that has manpower needs at no cost to the agency.  Fortunately for me and other veterans that internship kind of job can lead to a job at an agency like the Army Corps of Engineers,” Horvath said.

Since the program was adopted in the Tulsa District four years ago, 15 returning service members have participated in various offices throughout the District.


“There are eight service members working in the district today.” Horvath added.  “That’s just within our district.”

The eight service members assigned to the Tulsa District are: Capt. James Davenport, Sallisaw Navigation Office, Spc. Jason Kelley, Real Estate, Sgt. Berry Crawford, Design Branch, Sgt. Keith Newman, Tinker Resident Office, SSgt. Jason, Brant, Emergency Management, CSM. John Lairson, Tinker Resident Office, PFC. Joseph Moore, Fort Sill Resident Office, Capt. Matthew Brown, Tinker Resident Office

According to Operation Warfighter’s web site, the program has placed more than 2,000 service members in internship program with more than 105 different federal agencies.  Approximately 15 percent of the participants have been able to move into federal jobs upon their retirement from the military.  

Of the 15 participants in the Tulsa District, two have accepted full time federal jobs including Rayford McIntosh in Program Management and the district’s Operation Warfighter coordinator Horvath in the Emergency Management office.

Bill Smiley, chief Emergency Management and Security Office is also the OWP Coordinator for the district. He said, “we’ve worked hard to take in as many Service members as we can find jobs for them.  We would gladly take more if they were available.”

He said the district’s future efforts include participation in job fairs with the State of Oklahoma Department of Labor, attendance at muster events, most notably Norman Okla. with Community Based Warrior Transition Unit Ark..  He has also met with OWF Coordinators at Ft Riley in Kan. to provide a path of mutual agreement for future OWF partnerships and collaborations in the Kansas Area of the Tulsa District.

Lt. Col. Don Nestor, Deputy Commander of the Tulsa District, summed up the program. “The program has been an absolute win-win situation for both the Tulsa District and the soldiers returning home,” said Nestor. “These service members benefit the district because they bring with them a wealth of experience and military training. They provide valuable technical expertise and they can be close to home while they recuperate and then possibly transition to the civilian workforce.”