Gary Sinise Foundation Blog

From Serving Country to Serving Community

August 8th, 2018

Generations of American military heroes have sacrificed so much in defense of our nation’s freedom. While the settings may be different, like our military heroes, our first responders are asked to cast aside fear and put their personal safety on the line in order to protect others.

The Gary Sinise Foundation’s Center for Education and Outreach program was created to bring civilians and defenders together by hosting educational speaking series and workshops. These events will focus on character building exercises for civilians, injured heroes, first responders, and their loved ones.

Recently, the center hosted a seminar in conjunction with the California FireFighter Joint Apprentice Committee (Cal-JAC). Military veterans aspiring to become firefighters were invited to learn from and interact with representatives from Cal-JAC.

These professions offer camaraderie among peers and the opportunity to defend those in need. Deputy Chief of the Pasadena Fire Department Bryan Frieders noted the similarities while speaking at the seminar.

“We’re very regimented, we’re very goal oriented. We have a mission and we’re going to accomplish that mission. I think the most important characteristic is that serving attitude. We are here to serve people,” Frieders said about recruiting veterans.

Yvonne de la Peña, Executive Director of Cal-JAC, appreciated working with the Gary Sinise Foundation and found the relationship between the two organizations to be a natural fit.

We partnered with the Gary Sinise Foundation because of their connection with veterans. They love to work with first responders so it was a nice partnership from the start,

—Yvonne de la Peña, Executive Director of Cal-JAC

Cal-JAC brought seasoned firefighters who also served in the military to speak on transitioning from protecting our country to protecting our communities.

“It was great meeting fellow veterans, kind of telling our war stories from our time served and meeting the representatives of the fire department in Pasadena was great too, and just hearing their personal stories about working in the firehouse was pretty helpful,” Lielani Thompkins who served as a Flight Deck Medical Responder in the U.S. Navy said.

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Few occupations can truly prepare firefighters for the dangers they face. However, our military veterans have unique experience and skillsets that make them ideal candidates to become firefighters. The Gary Sinise Foundation has built a solid partnership with firefighters including the California Fire Foundation. We are proud to host Cal-JAC and veterans in attendance and look forward to hosting many more education events in the future. 

If you are looking for more information on how to become a firefighter, register here for next month’s firefighter career expos hosted by the Cal-JAC.