Local

August 20, 2018
 

New memorandum grows manpower, partnerships at Luke

Airman 1st Class Zoie Rider
Luke AFB, Ariz.

Leadership from Luke Air Force Base poses for a group photo with staff from the West Maricopa Education Center Aug. 14, 2018, at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. The 56th Medical Group at Luke has opened up the pharmacy, medical logistics, public health and bioenvironmental services as areas for the West-MEC Project SEARCH interns to work in.

The West Maricopa Education Center signed an educational opportunities memorandum for disabled students with Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., Aug. 14, 2018.

The memorandum will allow West-MEC’s Project SEARCH to bring 10 interns ages 18-30 on base to work side by side with military members and learn vital skills that they can use to find a well-paying job. Project SEARCH is a continuously expanding international program with the primary objective of securing competitive employment for people with disabilities.

“This program is all about getting people out poverty,” said Lt. Col. Hayley Wihongi, 56th Mission Support Group deputy commander. “It’s incredible that we here at Luke can participate in that.”

The 56th Medical Group has opened up the pharmacy, medical supply logistics, public health and bioenvironmental services as areas for the interns to work in. The internship time frame will be 10 months, mimicking a typical school year.

“Interns will rotate through and be able to learn and provide assistance to those areas,” said Wihongi. “During that time they also learn skills that they can take out and get jobs on the outside with.”

Year after year, new groups of interns will explore new areas at Luke. There are currently several areas in the 56th Force Support Squadron being considered as potential training environments for the interns.

“There’s a certain amount of responsibility that goes with the military member that’s teaching the intern what to do and working with them,” said Wihongi. “There is also the added manpower, so those are some of the added benefits to the wing. But really the focus is to help these individuals get skills that will get them out of poverty.”

Col. Robert Sylvester, 56th Mission Support Group commander, signs an educational opportunities memorandum with the West Maricopa Education Center Aug. 14, 2018, at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. The memorandum will allow West-MEC’s Project SEARCH to bring 10 interns ages 18-30 onto Luke to work side by side with military members and learn vital skills that they can use to find a well-paying job.

The interns will have about an hour of classroom instruction in the morning to go over any issues that may have arisen from the prior day and work on how to handle those situations. They will learn soft skills such as how to get along with others, communicate well and how to ask for and accept help when needed.

“If they are having problems with any of the hard skills, we will try to work through those and find accommodations to make them able to work and then they’ll go out and work,” said Amy Basich, Project SEARCH Instructor for West-MEC.

The project’s hope is to get the interns employed after 10 months with all the skills they’ve gained while learning at Luke.

“One of (Brig. Gen. Todd Canterbury, 56th Fighter Wing commander) goals is to build community partnerships and this is just one step in doing that,” said Col. Robert Sylvester, 56th Mission Support Group commander. “Often times they’re going to learn a lot from our employees here at Luke, but I look forward to seeing employees learn from them, I’m really excited about that.”




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