QUANTICO, Va. - “What resources are available? What am I looking for? What is the process?” These are just a few of the questions that Sgt. Jagdishkumar Bakarania has to investigate as he prepares to transition from the Marine Corps.
Three years ago, Bakarania was placed on Permanent Limited Duty (PLD) while recovering from mitochondrial myopathies which is a neuromuscular disease caused by damage to the mitochondria. Marines may be placed on PLD if they have a justifiable reason supported by their commanding officer. To be eligible for PLD, a wounded, ill, or injured Marine must be found unfit by the Physical Evaluation Board (PEB), be able to function in a normal military environment that does not require an inordinate amount of medical care and is expected to maintain proper military appearance and weight standards.
Bakarania’s command, the Communications School at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., has continued to be supportive throughout his progression. “They didn’t look down on me because of my [illness]. They are very helpful,” said Bakarania.
The Marine Corps acknowledges the value of retaining wounded, ill and injured Marines’ leadership skills for mentoring junior Marines and completing mission-critical functions, despite their medical restrictions. Since staying active duty, Bakarania has enlisted the help of the USMC Wounded Warrior Regiment’s transition cell.
In order to set Marines, like Bakarania, up for a successful reintegration, the Regiment’s transition cell designed the ‘Basic Track’ system. This system was intended to streamline the transition process. The steps include orientation which takes place during the acute phase; the initial interview to collect biographical information; assessments that helps an individual better understand their interests; resume writing which assists with translating military skills; learning interview skills to instill confidence; and researching professions to guide Marines to career fields they would like to consider. Following the ‘Basic Track,’ a Marine can choose to go through college, vocational school, career or the entrepreneur track.
Bakarania and other Marines go through this process with the end-state being a rewarding, satisfying and meaningful career. “I am grateful to the Wounded Warrior Regiment personnel,” said Bakarania. “They set me up with an opportunity to learn about different jobs outside my field and gain experience. I was supposed to EAS (end of active service) back in 2009 but due to my medical condition I have been extended till medical finds the right diagnosis or the treatment for me.”
In October 2010, the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency was extremely impressed with Bakarania’s credentials and decided to offer him an internship through Operation Warfighter. He has currently moved on to an internship as a systems engineer at the National Security Agency (NSA) and is awaiting the final results of his Medical Board. According to NSA’s wounded warrior program website, “wounded warriors have the opportunity to work as interns while they are recuperating at their medical facility. The internship schedule will work around their medical treatment schedules. It is a great way for [wounded, ill or injured service members] to continue to serve the nation and advance their careers while they are recuperating.”
“Not knowing the outcome of my medical condition has been very stressful,” said Bakarania. “Since there is not a lot information or research about this condition it has definitely been difficult.”
In order to prepare for his new EAS, Bakarania has attended several interagency job fairs and other networking events. He also plans to graduate from the University of Maryland with a Bachelor’s degree in Information Technology in October. “I have two more classes. I just want to prepare for the future and build up my resume and performance… because once I get out of the Marine Corps there isn’t any turning back,” said Bakarania.
Established in 2007, the Marine Corps Wounded Warrior Regiment was created to provide and enable assistance to combat and non-combat wounded, ill, and injured Marines, and sailors attached to or in direct support of Marine units and their family members in order to assist them as they return to duty or transition to civilian life. The Regimental Headquarters, located in Quantico, Va., oversees the operations of two Wounded Warrior Battalions located at Camp Pendleton, Calif., and Camp Lejeune, N.C., as well as multiple detachments in locations around the globe.
For more information about the Wounded Warrior Regiment, please visit www.woundedwarriorregiment.org, http://facebook.com/wwr.usmc, or call the Sgt. Merlin German Wounded Warrior Call Center 24/7 at 877-487-6299.
For more information about the Permanent Limited Duty process go to: http://www.woundedwarriorregiment.org/wwr/assets/File/FactSheets/Staying_Marine_Permanent_and_Expanded_Limited_Duty.pdf
For more information about the National Security Agency’s wounded warrior hiring process go to: http://www.nro.gov/careers/wounded.html