New program helps wounded soldiers transition to workforce

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August 8, 2006

They're the men and women who put their lives on the line every day for their country.

And after serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom, many of them return with their lives changed forever.

Sometimes returning to the civilian world can be just as difficult.

A two-day event called Hiring Heroes is the first of its kind for the military. 250 disabled soldiers from across the Southeast go through a technical workshop and career fair to help them get back on their feet. It started August 8, and News 12 was there.

For some in attendance, the injuries were obvious. For others, like Sgt. Miguel Luma, it's not so apparent.

"I can't kneel down because it shocks. The arm, can't do it in full circle...don't know why until they finish all the tests," he explained.

The pain is due to injuries he sustained after serving two years in the city of Taji, just north of Baghdad.

But the injury that caused the least damage is the one he'll never forget.

"Grenade thrown, got the million dollar wound...only a few lacerations."

While surviving a war may have been the most difficult challenge he's faced so far, he now comes home to face another: going from the line of duty to a new line of work.

He's restless and eager to go back to work.

"I'm hoping to better myself, maybe go to college someday."

It's stories like Sgt. Luma's that demonstrate how important the new Hiring Heroes program is.

Especially now, when injured soldiers need it the most, to have a career after the army, and to get ready for a life outside those boots.

Sgt. Luma told us he wants to work in forensics someday.

The guest speaker Tuesday was Herman Boone. He's the high school football coach whose life was depicted in the movie Remember the Titans.