AUSTIN, Texas - A pair of organizations have teamed up to help give more than two dozen veterans another chance to serve their country. Daniel Pena's life has been dedicated to public service.
"I'm the first generation public servant." Pena said, "My parents are immigrants that came here and ever since I was a kid, I've seen myself as an American and that I needed to give back to my country and this is the way i do it."
Pena has served his country in a number of roles.
"I got out of the (U.S. Army), quite a while ago, it's been awhile now since 1999. I went into EMS and became a paramedic, and then I transitioned into law enforcement. Now I've been wanting to expand my horizons."
Pena, along with over two dozen veterans, are continuing to serve their country by training to become wildland firefighters. A job the Bureau of Land Management and Team Rubicon said they are perfectly suited for.
"They've got life experiences that they can equate to what we are doing on a wildland fire," Chuck Russell, a fire management specialist for BLM, said. "They're great leaders, they're great followers, they are great problem solvers. They are individuals that think quickly and on their feet in a changing and dynamic environment."
Over the course of four days, these vets will learn a number of special tactics and techniques to fight some of the largest and most dangerous wildfires across the United States.
"Oregon, Alaska, Washington, California were extremely busy and those that we trained last year, we used the heck out of them."
People like Mary Fergus, who's been on Team Rubicon for over a year. Although she is not a veteran, she said working with them has made her feel a part of the family.
"I think it is incredibly rewarding and I think I finally found my people," she said.
A family that is inviting all of their veteran brothers and sisters to come and join so they can continue their service to the country they love.
"Some of the guys just need the brotherhood, the bonding, the connection, and this here gives them a meaning and a way to still stay serving the country and the community," Pena said.