SPRINGERVILLE — Only 7.3 percent of all Americans have served in the U.S. military and wildland firefighting has become a popular career with many veterans. Many veterans have expressed how wildland firefighting experience has been an eye-opener for them, leading to career opportunities. Several serve here on the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests.
George Hruby served nine years in the U.S Marine Corps and has been with the Forest Service for six years. Hruby helps fellow veterans get hired into the Forest Service through the Veterans Recruitment Appointment program.
Tedd Hurtado, former U.S. Army served five years in the Artillery. Hurtado had former knowledge of wildland firefighting from his family before becoming a firefighter. He started his career with the Forests Service in 2016. He thrives on the wildland firefighting culture and the rewards it provides.
Oscar Castaneda former U.S. Army and Arizona National Guard served eight years in the Infantry. Castaneda enjoys the outdoors, loves the responsibility and the dynamic work environment.
David Slack also former U.S. Army served seven years in the Infantry. Slack was selected for the Veterans Wildland Firefighting Corp and hired in 2018 with the Forest Service.
Jorge Hernandez former U.S. Navy served five years as an Aviation Structural Mechanic. Hernandez also had prior exposure to the wildland culture through family and friends who worked for the Forest Service. He loves working in the outdoors and doing fire suppression.
Luke Brannon, formerly of the U.S. Air Force served five-plus years as a Senior Orbital Analyst. When he came out of the military, a friend recommended wildland firefighting. Brannon considered it, joined wildland firefighting, and fell in love with it. What he loves most about this job is his office is in the forest. The veterans have done multiple tours overseas, and some have done stateside deployments.
The Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests are grateful for these veterans and others who now serve managing and protecting our National Forests. Please take time to thank all veterans who have served our country and these amazing veterans who continue “caring for the land and serving the people.”