Tag Archives: marines

Hellertown, PA: Veteran says “I’m a Marine and I’m not doing yoga”

Got you to click on the post, didn’t it? 14784300-mmmain

USMC Veteran Liz Thompson shared that statement in her story with The Express-Times, where she described her struggle the transition home after a 9-month deployment to Iraq in 2005. Liz eventually found her way to yoga after it was suggested to her by a friend and she has since become an instructor herself and teaches a class for Veterans at the American Legion Post 397 in Hellertown, PA.

Check out the rest of Liz’s story in The Express-Times!


WarRetreat’s “Great Big Book of Everything” Giving Edition

Are you looking for a fantastic way to thank a Veteran, but don’t really know how?  Many people stop at saying they “Thanked a Vet.”  However, here at WarRetreat…we work with and have relationships with several non-profit organizations that support veterans with anything from yoga and meditation to adaptive sports…and just about everything in between.  Getting veterans to move is a key component to their general health.  Here are a few of our favorite non-profits you might want to consider “giving” to.

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The GiveBack Yoga Foundation has a simple goal…To bring our Yoga For Veterans Toolkits, developed by expert teachers with years of experience in working with soldiers with post-traumatic stress, to at least 10,000 veterans across the country. To help make that happen, they are currently hosting a crowdfunding campaign to bring yoga toolkits to 2,000 veterans by the end of the year? If you haven’t, we hope you’ll check it out – when you donate $10 or more through December 31st, we’ll send you a gift of thanks! 

Major-Missy-MeditationChoose from goodies like download links for guided meditations, inspirational books about the power of yoga, or a one-on-one session with Mindful Yoga Therapy founder Suzanne Manafort. Or join Give Back Yoga’s trauma-sensitive teacher training at Sedona Yoga Festival in February, while helping us to fund yoga toolkits for over 60 vets and service members. Some of our “thank you” gifts are limited, so act now. With your help, we can share the healing practice of yoga and mindfulness with veterans who are recovering from trauma. 

Outward Bound Veterans just published their 2014 course schedule for veterans and have over 600 slots for veterans and active duty soldiers on courses all over the country. They help returning service members and recent veterans readjust to life at home through powerful wilderness courses that draw on the healing benefit of teamwork and challenge through use of the natural world. In the military many veterans experienced courage, and camaraderie  while deployed. Outward Bound gives veterans and service members the opportunity to re-experience these strengths in themselves in a different context, thus helping them to transition back to civilian life. All courses are fully-funded including travel to and from the course of their choice.
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Wounded Warriors in Action Foundation (WWIA) provides world class outdoor adventures to assist with the mental and spiritual healing of Combat Wounded Purple Hear Recipients.  WWIA takes small groups of heroes out for  long weekends as a way to help them re-integrate back into a community,  increase their self-reliance and self-confidence, form peer to peer relationships and enjoy the wonderful aspects of the great outdoors -all in concert with a cadre of expert sportsmen who share the same values and ethos of the Heroes they support.
Right now, Wounded Warriors in Action Foundation is participating in the “CrowdRise Holiday Challenge” starting RIGHT NOW! It is a fundraising contest where WWIA keeps all the money raised, but also gets to compete with other participants for the possibility of winning even more money and exposure through contests held within the challenge. How can you help?

Click HERE to donate!   Be sure to make a comment under “donor comments” and share with others about why you love WWIA.

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Help Our Wounded (HOW) is here to serve as a mentor, support system and knowledgeable resource to caregivers and wounded veterans.  HOW provides accurate and actionable information and guidance based on the collective experience of those who have already worked within the system for many years and know where to go, what to do, who to ask and HOW to ask.
Founded by Rosie Babin in 2009, Help Our Wounded’s mission is to help severely wounded service members, and those who care for them, by providing direct aid, resources and support – unique to their needs.  While there are many resources for caregivers, the needs of those caring for the wounded veterans are unique and more complex. HOW has helped me out (Chris E.) three times.  Rosie has always been very kind and generous.  She is an ANGEL.
YOU can help them out many different ways.
Mindful Yoga Therapy has a multi-pronged approach to helping Veterans.  First, they provide clinically tested programs for Veterans in several in-resident Veteran Affairs programs.  Secondly, they have resources available to Veterans…specifically their “new and improved” practice guide. This guide is a collection of simple but effective yoga practices developed by the authors through practical and clinical experience working with veterans coping with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other psycho-emotional stress. MYT also provides training to yoga instructors to prepare them with the tools they need to work with Veterans with PTSD.  Lastly, they provide scholarships to Veterans who are interested in becoming Yoga instructors.
Save A Warrior uses safe, innovative and evidenced-based resiliency programs, we offer an alternative to suicide so that returning veterans may thrive. Save A Warrior™ embraces our returning veterans in a healthy and nurturing environment that stimulates growth beyond any program available.

We can only help with your support; and we thank you for partnering in fellowship to bring returning veterans all the way home.

Through your generous donations, we team with evidence-based and innovative resiliency-training service professionals, clinicians and licensed practitioners who provide the following:

  • The Warrior Meditation Project™ shown to heighten cognitive function and promote a “threshold” experience
  • Art of mindful living activities to target core issues of post-traumatic stress
  • Best practices for accessing the Post 9/11 GI Bill to receive maximum benefitMy-Idea
  • Equine Assisted Therapy and Wild Horse gentling
  • Self-motivation strategies to inspire and create a “life worth living”
  • Leadership, Behavioral-typing and Team Building Rope(s) Course
  • Continued engagement and mentoring through community-based programs and veterans outreach
Every returning veteran who completes our training has the fighting chance against becoming another suicide tragedy. But we need your help to keep returning veterans on the road to recovery… make your pledge today to Save A Warrior™ .
ParadoxSports-vectorFinalParadox Sports offers veteran-specific mountaineering trips. This past year, we did Mt. Rainer, the Grand Teton and Yosemite National Park. In 2014, we plan to expand to five events. Our first 


veteran climb was Wyoming’s Grand Teton on Sept. 11, 2012. This was spearheaded by Executive Director Timmy O’Neill and Exum Mountain Guide Mike Kirby, an experienced Special Ops Army Ranger who served three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. After leaving the military in 2011, Kirby was involved in an avalanche which caused the eventual amputation of part of his frostbitten right foot. Since then, he has guided dozens of wounded veterans up mountains across the US. Most recently, Kirby joined two other injured veterans to successfully make the first all-veteran adaptive ascent of El Capitan with Paradox Sports on Sept. 11, 2013.
Yoga Across America’s initiative, “Yoga for American Soldiers,” is saving lives and healing the wounds our soldiers are returning home with from war. YAA is sharing yoga, meditation and breathing exercises to active duty soldiers and veterans. We are reaching out to all branches of the military, teaching yoga to hundreds of troops.
“Yoga gave me faith that my body has more power than I believed it had.It gives me freedom to believe in myself,” states Tim Taylor, Army Specialist and Wounded Warrior, Afghanistan.
Soldiers are experiencing healing, inspiration and possibility through practicing yoga with YAA. They tell us they enjoy the practice and would like more yoga in their lives.
BOOTSTRAP is a ten-week home-based program to help service members and veterans heal from post-traumatic stress and other chronic stress conditions. Combining the best of modern science with the ancient wisdom of yoga, BOOTSTRAP has been proven effective in less than an hour a day of use. Best of all, BOOTSTRAP is free of charge to troops and veterans in need. Learn more atwww.bootstrapUSA.com.
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MalaforVets is Chris Eder’s (WarRetreat Staff Member) Seva Project to raise money for Veteran Yoga projects like: Mindful Yoga Therapy for Vets, Save A Warrior Project, and the Give Back Yoga Foundation.  Chris is a certified Vinyasa and Hatha Interdisciplinary yoga instructor.  He is the Marketing Director for Mindful Yoga Therapy for Vets, a VYP Ambassador, Sivana Ambassador, and is currently working on his 500RYT.  He also has PTSD and A.D.D.
All November long MalaforVets is running a fundraiser suggesting you give back to Veterans wh


o have already given so much to you.  They will donate $5 per Warrior Mala bead sold to Mindful Yoga Therapy. PLUS…all of the Warrior Malas sold will go to a Veteran currently in one of MYT’s yoga programs.  BUT WAIT…it gets better.  For every Warrior mala you buy…your name will be put into a drawing to win a Support Precedes Action Mala bead.

A Conflict? Military and the Yoga Lifestyle

A great article by William Hunnell, USMC in the yoga publication Elephant Journal. Many of us have encountered an uneasiness among the yoga community when it comes to the idea of military service and yoga (especially in areas where military personnel are rarely seen). But in this article Hunnell explains the values and what makes the two so simpatico.

Screen Shot 2013-09-29 at 10.24.04 PM“Each branch espouses traits that are expected of a member. The Marines speak of the 14 Leadership Traits while the Army speaks of 7 Core Values. I won’t go into all of them. The one, in my opinion, that speaks volumes and can be found in both is selfless service or unselfishness.

Read it here at: Does Military Service Conflict with the Yoga Lifestyle?


How Yoga Helps Vets – A Response from a 23yr Air Force Veteran & Yogi

Dear Mystery Veteran,

My name is MSgt Chris Eder…and I’m just shy of 23 years active duty service to THE United States of America as a Combat Correspondent in the Air Force.  Since 9/11, I have found myself in some interesting places.  Sometimes by myself, sometimes with people I had never met, and sometimes with people who I love(d) as a brother or a sister.  I want to make it perfectly clear that anything I say is not meant to “one-up you,” try to be better than you, or try to compare to you.  Rather, I want to provide perspective and insight as we both wear combat boots and serve as warriors & protectors of the USA!

I know exactly how it feels not to sleep.  For many years, I just told people I was a “morning” person.  That was maybe less than half true…as I really do enjoy being up before anyone else.  Hot showers, fresh coffee, etc.  But the truth was…I couldn’t sleep.  I used to spend as many hours as possible working.  People thought it was because I was a hard worker.  OK…they were right!  However, as I have learned over the years…working hard is also an unhealthy coping mechanism.  Avoidance!  It is hard to tell something is wrong when you continue to out-perform everyone!

Al Rasheed 1In 2003, I found myself traveling throughout Iraq by any means possible.  I was equipped with a 9mm, no ammunition, a flak vest I think my dad wore in Vietnam, and my camera gear. For a short period of time, I called the Al Rasheed Hotel home.  That is until Oct 26, 2003 when insurgents attacked it with 68mm and 88mm rockets.  Under Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz was in the hotel that night. Check the story out, Sec Wolfowitz is wearing my flak vest! Things got worse after my second deployment to Baghdad during the “Surge of Operations.”  Damn…the insurgents had our location dialed in!  20+ attacks a day seemed “normal” for so long.

So…why yoga?  Hell…why not?  What is the worst thing that can happen?  I started yoga back in 1999 because of a pinched sciatic nerve and a diagnosis of Adult Attention Deficit Disorder.  I instantly was hooked! During my 2007 deployment to Iraq, I was actually teaching 5-6 classes a week.  Anyone…and I mean anyone… can do yoga.  I introduce to you Lieutenant Colonel Tom Bryant.

Lieutenant Colonel Bryant, US Army is my friend/mentor and hands down the best person to ever come from Alabama. LTC Bryant is the last person I thought would try yoga.  He is a typical Southern conservative, “Roll Tide!”-preaching, family loving, church going, hunting/fishing military kind of guy.  He would often poke fun of me when we worked together about how I taught and practiced yoga.  Tom recently sent me a Facebook message:

“Are you sitting down? You should.

Last night I did yoga. And since I’m deployed, you know I wasn’t drunk or high. It lasted 20 minutes, was cal

yoga-meme-300x187led relaxation yoga or something like that. Really just seemed like a lot of stretching to me, but this Japanese guy with a ponytail on the video kept talking about “seeing your breathing” and “step mindfully downward on your heels” and a bunch of other platitudinal crap I didn’t understand. But the stretching stuff was cool.”

Even this staunch yoga antagonist found yoga to be at the very least, “cool!”  There is a good chance what you think Yoga is…is not at all what it really is.  Yoga can be whatever you want it to be…killer workout, awesome stretch, or a time to reset and restore your batteries.  For me, I *try* to start every day with 15-30 minutes of meditation and yoga.  I also end each day with some grounding breath work to help clear and prepare my mind for sleep.  Trust me…I know it sounds fruity, crazy, or even esoteric…but IT WORKS!  I’ve been practicing yoga since 1999 and teaching since 2007.  I often wonder where I would be today without yoga.  I see my brothers and sisters-in-arms who share *our* nightmares, panic attacks, alertness, relationship issues, memory problems…the list can go on forever.  I know just how tough my life is…and wonder how much tougher and often debilitating it would be without yoga in my life.

Lastly, I’d like for you to stop breathing for 20 minutes. What…you can’t?  You think you might die.  I agree!  So…public math here…if I can increase both the quality and quantity of your breath…would that not increase the quality and quantity of your life?  Check out this free sample from Suzanne Manafort: 


Wisdom: The Sound Application of Knowledge

“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion” -The Dalai Lama

By CJ Keller
Veteran, USMC

Wisdom is the sound application of knowledge.  It is a deep understanding and realization of people, things, events or situations, resulting in the ability to apply judgments and actions that serve optimal outcomes.

How can we cultivate or tap into wisdom through yoga?  Wisdom often requires control of one’s emotional reactions and control of the senses, so that universal principles of reason and morality prevail to determine our actions.  Our practice, whether in a physical posture, breath control or meditation, facilitates presence and grounding in the moment.  This grounding enables a yogi to draw upon judgement from a more objective place, where the mind is calm and freed from emotional barriers of stress and anxiety.  A quiet mind can listen to the authentic inner voice that we all posses. Ultimately, this is the voice in line with your values and this is the voice that guides your actions.

CJ Keller, USMC, Retired
CJ Keller, Veteran, USMC

The mindful movement, breathing and relaxation techniques used in SFHW’s yoga teachings, allow us to be lifted from the fog of our senses and from our selfish and often misguided desires.  As brothers and sisters bound by the honor and pride of military service, we can use our unique knowledge from training and combat, combined with a focused mind to make better, wiser choices for good in the world.  Mindful yoga fosters connection, sharpens intellect, and strengthens knowledge of self and others. This wisdom is a compass for our actions, leading us to happiness and compassion for ourselves and those we serve.

To Work With Veterans -#semperlove

Clay Hunt and Jake Wood
Clay Hunt and Jake Wood

When Marine veteran Clay Hunt killed himself in 2011, it was a wake up call for everyone to pay attention to the deeper layers. From the surface, it seemed that the voraciousness with which Clay advocated for other veterans, rode with Ride to Recovery, and went with Team Rubicon on their maiden voyage to help in Haiti –that he was in the clear. But anxiety, depression, fears, and the video loop that replayed the trauma of war would not let up. Clay killed himself in his apartment in Houston.  Clay, like the “147,763 suicides in 21 states over the 13 years ” left behind friends, families and others who loved and always tried to be reassuring.

Last night, CBS news ran a story on the life and death of Clay. They interviewed his parents, mentors, and good friend –the founder of Team Rubicon, Jake Woods. Jake wasn’t just a friend –he was his  battle buddy, a brotherhood for the ages. He thinks of Clay often.

As I watched the segment on Clay, I thought of so many of the veterans from WWII and forward who came through our small surgical practice. The veteran who stood out was Bobby, a USMC Vietnam vet. He didn’t kill himself, but he tried several times over on his 20+ year path with alcoholism, incarceration, and drug addictions. The toll of this hard road took a turn when he arrived at the ER needing an amputation due to long festering diabetes. That’s how we ended up with Bobby.

Bobby enjoying life, shortly before he died.

Bobby finally found himself, and developed an ebullient attitude in the years we took over his care. When we announced we were leaving for the Army, Bobby was the first one there to offer his good wishes. He helped our staff write resumes and post them online. Sadly, he died of a heart attack just before we closed. I think during the time we knew him, there was a mutual guidance between our staff and him. But Marines –they never stop giving even in death. I like to think Bobby watches over us.

I guess I’m writing this as a cautionary tale. There are legions who want to help veterans and are jumping into this full of determination and good will. Like anyone else, the paths of vets will be varied. Many will go on to live good lives, others will struggle like Bobby, and a few will lose the battle like Adam Razani, Peter Linnerooth, or Clay Hunt. Those who want to help should remember this: know your capabilities, work as a team, and seek help when you need it. You will never know everything, as digging beneath someone’s surface may not be your prerogative, but you must never lose hope.

Practice simple things in your helping. Listen, let others talk. Don’t railroad a conversation, as I once witnessed a nurse from the VA do (she was endemic of everything wrong with the system). Never mistake someone’s being “busy” or outwardly engaged in activities as a sign that they don’t need the occasional boost. Still, on occasion, we may lose someone with whom we tried very hard. That’s when we have to tell ourselves, “Dammit, I tried my best.” You gave to them, and never think they didn’t notice. Judge neither them or yourself.  Love that person and the memory of them with all your heart and if you can –stay in the good fight. 

Note: This post is dedicated to military veterans Carl Salazar, US Naval Academy graduate founder of Expedition Balance; Lt. Jeannette Shin, former USN chaplain; and Matt Murray, former USAF pilot and sherpa to many veterans. All have done incredible work.


SFHW Yoga Warrior T-Shirt

Our friends at Semper Fidelis Health and Wellness have partnered up with Sivana to form a Community Partnership.  Thanks to this community partnership they now have a Warrior-inspired shirt.6005war_earth_moss_1024x1024 This an original designed Tee and a portion of the proceeds will go to support SFHW training and education programs.The Yoga Warrior logo represents the battle we all must fight to gain our liberation and find our true inner strength. SivanaClothing-009_1024x1024The Om at the center represents our victory in this great battle. The Yoga Warrior Organic Tee is part of Sivana’s eco-friendly Alternative Earth Collection.

3501_heather_for_warrior_cropped_1024x1024Click the links to purchase:

Short Sleeve Men’s Shirt

Long Sleeve Men’s Shirt

Flowy Racerback Women’s Tank

Our Gratitude: Helping A New Generation of Combat Veterans

Retired Marine Buck Rogers reaches out to a new generation of veterans. Photo: Jeanine Hill

Sure. There are lots of ways to give to veterans and those in active duty. We write checks, we participate online in forums. But the nagging questions always comes back to us: are we helping people in our community where we live? 

Each week in the bucolic town of Orange, CA, a steady group of veterans and supporters retires the flag each Wednesday in the plaza at 6 PM. It’s a moving ceremony: taps is played, and once a month they read the names of those who have perished in the present day wars. Two of the regulars there are Buck and his wife Karin. WarRetreat is grateful that years after retirement, Buck is helping a new generation of veterans find their way in the aftermath of war. We are pleased to reprint this article with a photograph by Jeanine Hill, which appeared in the OrangeReview.

Know The Neighbors: Proud To Be An American! 

By Karen Anderson

Having served in three wars during his military career, Orange resident Robert “Buck” Rogers has devoted a lifetime of service helping military veterans. As treasurer of the Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 1024, Buck assists vets in obtaining health claims for military injuries, as well as other types of assistance for those in need.

This Veteran’s Day, Buck and his wife, Karin, plan to attend the evening of remembrance in Garden Grove.

“I like to stay active; it keeps my mind occupied,” said Buck, who enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1945 and retired in 1974.

Working with aircraft his entire career, Buck began as a crew chief on R4Ds stateside in Virginia during World War II. In 1950, he went to Korea, where he served for two years as an R4D crew chief, taking supplies to the forward areas and transporting the wounded back to field hospitals. One of Buck’s most vivid memories of combat involves crossing enemy lines to drop flares.

“Each night, we were in charge of dropping flairs for our night fighters so they could see the enemy transportation driving by.”

After the war, Buck was transferred back to North Carolina, and then to El Toro, working on command aircraft under the general there. He then spent three years on O‘ahu as a crew chief on R5D aircraftfor the Command for the Pacific Area. He returned to El Toro, and then headed off to Vietnam, where he served from 1968 to ’69.

During the Vietnam War, Buck supervised aircraft maintenance for his squadron. He saw combat while delivering supplies and bringing back wounded.

“It was routine work that had to be done,” he recalls.

When Buck retired in 1974, he went to work for the Academy of Defensive Driving as an instructor, where he stayed until 1999. Living in the same house in Orange that he bought in 1961, Buck continues to work diligently on behalf of veterans.

“We need to bring our troops home,” Buck said. “There are so many wounded who need help to move forward and live a normal life. We encourage people to become associate members of a veteran’s group to help out.”

The First Class

“Hypothetically speaking, if I came to one of your classes do I have to buy those stupid yoga pants?”

Asked my boyfriend the other day when I got home from work. After a slight giggle (and a ton of internal excitement) I informed him that, no, he would be just fine in sweatpants or gym shorts.

As the evening went on I asked if he was actually serious about coming to one of my yoga classes. You see my boyfriend just recently finished his 4 years of active service in the Marine Corps, with one deployment to Iraq followed up by one to Afghanistan. If you found this website it probably isn’t a secret to you the changes that can follow a deployment. Falling asleep can be a big issue, driving on the highway can be stressful, and there is usually an overwhelming need to have a firearm within close range.

Being the girlfriend who teaches yoga for this type of thing I would casually throw in a “why don’t you come to a class” or a “hey, try this yoga DVD with me”.  But no matter how many times I asked, I always got the “ehh, not today” or the “yoga is silly” response. So that is why I was shocked when he brought it up on his own and I was not about to pass it up.

Lucky for him I was teaching a class the next day at Nellis AFB. I was subbing for another instructor so I had a pretty slow, basic class planned but reassured him anyways that it wouldn’t be as terrible as I’m sure he was thinking it would have been.  The hour came and went and I couldn’t wait for the ride home to hear what he thought of his first yoga class ever (while inside I was hoping for the best but preparing for the worst).

“So what did you think?” I asked about .002 seconds after getting in my car

“It was alright”

“Just alright? That’s it?” He knew it was driving me crazy

“Fine, I liked it”

As a yoga teacher hearing your class was good always gives you that warm fuzzy feeling. Hearing it from a Veteran, who you know will benefit from the class even more, makes you feel even better. But hearing it from someone you love who you know you helped, if even just a little bit, reinforced all the reasons why I do this work in the first place.

While watching him during the class it was pretty obvious that for that hour, for the first time in a while, the deployments were not the first thing on his mind.

And that is really all that matters.

Jobs: Tai Chi Instructor Opening, Camp Pendleton

Closing date: October 26. Please see the link below for details.

This came up on USA JOBS, the portal for civilian employment in the armed forces. It’s for a PART TIME position, which is important to remember because the salary below is quoted for a full time position. So the pay is half of what you see listed. They’re forced to list it this way –remember, it’s a government job and there are all sorts of requirements. Ditto that for the interview. You’ll be asked lots of questions that seem weird considering it’s a TaiChi/Wellness job. But you’ll be asked how you get along with others, how to describe a situation where things weren’t working out –standard government weirdness questions.

Anyway, what makes this job special is it’s funded through Navy Medicine –rather than a contracted job for a teacher through the Fitness Centers. This is a bold step in the right direction, and we applaud their decision to take this move. Recently, they hired their first part time yoga instructor to work with the Department of Alternative Medicine, which is associated with the hospital. Tai Chi and Yoga are wonderful adjunct therapies to nourish mind, body, spirit.

Opening, Hope & Care Center, Camp Pendleton. Click for more info.

 We’re guessing it might be to work with wounded warriors through the hospital. Camp Pendleton recently opened its new Hope and Care Center. Read about it here.  Please do ample research on their wounded warrior regiment, the hospital. Plus, some soul searching is recommended. Decide whether or not you want to work with this population. The Marines uphold and deeply abide by their values of  Honor, Courage, Commitment. They don’t sign up for the Marines, they become Marines.  The same is expected of anyone working with them. This is a point that Jillian, Dave and I can’t stress enough.

Link to the job is here.


Department:Department Of The Navy

Agency:Naval Medical Command

Job Announcement Number:SW10601-R3-513594PD079564-D


$42,199.00 to $54,862.00 / Per Year


Tuesday, September 13, 2011 to Wednesday, October 26, 2011




Part Time 20 hours – Term NTE 366 Days




Few vacancy(s) – Camp Pendleton, CAView Map


United States Citizens


The Navy and Marine Corps team offers innovative, exciting and meaningful work linking military and civilian talents to achieve our mission and safeguard our freedoms. Department of the Navy provides competitive salaries, comprehensive benefits, and extensive professional development and training. From pipe fitters to accountants, scientists to engineers, doctors to nurses-the careers and opportunities to make a difference are endless. Civilian careers-where purpose and patriotism unite!

This announcement is being amended to extend the closing date to Thursday, October 26th, 2011.