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Veterans in the 21CSC: Kris Pedings – Southwest Conservation Corps



From Southwest Conservation Corps, Durango, CO

As a kid, Kris remembers wanting to be a soldier, or a cowboy or a firefighter; always wanting to do something challenging and rewarding. He worked construction for a number of years in order to put himself through school in criminal justice. After finishing school he took time to see the world by serving in the Peace Corps in an agricultural program in Ecuador, and teaching English in China for several months. After returning to the United States, Kris started looking into the military and wanted to try his hand at the Special Forces; he felt drawn to how elite it felt, and how hard it would be to become successful. After more than a year of strenuous training, he was placed as a Special Forces engineer Sergeant with the 5th group at Fort Campbell, KY.

After three years and a couple of deployments, things started to slow down and deployments started to get cancelled. This led him start thinking about a career with a Hotshot Fire crew or as a Smokejumper, someone who parachutes into a remote region to fight wildfires. Kris started contacting supervisors to get some insight. During this time, Kris worked on getting all of the necessary certifications to serve on a fire crew, but he found it difficult to finalize many of the certifications without the required field days. His search led him to phone calls with a couple of Fire Management Officers who highly recommended the Veterans Fire Corps (VFC) program, an AmeriCorps program of Southwest Conservation Corps.

Kris ended up applying to the VFC program and started just two days after getting his terminal leave and finishing up with the military. He found the VFC program to be just what he needed to pursue a career in wildland firefighting. The certifications, work experience and networking would help set him up for success within the federal land management agencies. Kris is currently sending out resumes to several Hotshot crews that are stationed with Smokejumping units. He is about to start a month-long Emergency Medical Technician course that will prepare him even further for a job in wildland firefighting.