A few months ago I began my search for a new career as I prepared to transition from the military after 24 years of service. That is when I learned about the Veterans Local Government Management Fellowship (VLGMF) through the Fort Carson Career Skill Program and a friend that was part of the very first VLGMF cohort. The application process was easy and moved very quickly. My Chain of Command supported me 100 percent. I was interviewed by a panel of local City Managers/officials and a week later I was offered a fellowship working as a Hazard Mitigation & Resiliency Project Manager for the City of Manitou Springs.

My personal interest in local government, particularly management, is rooted in my desire to impact the quality of life and contribute to improvements within my own community.  I am eager to learn and soak up the various areas that pertain to local governing while drawing from the skills I have already acquired and merge them into tangible contributions for a successful career after my retirement from the US Army.

Local government appeals to me because it channels my interest for my community. It is in my character to serve others. Though I have not yet gained much work experience in this field, through my 24-year Army career and personal experience, I have learned that local government professionals are dedicated to the same mission, serving others. Through my own personal experiences and interactions with local government, I’ve always felt that I am being taken care of and important. Local Government managers drive the machine that provides their communities a sense of reassurance, while building trust with residents so that everyone is heard and respected as members of the community.  The Veterans Local Government Management Fellowship has motivated me to become such a person who is actively involved with my community, making a difference and to see my hard work have an effect on the people I serve.

My two months of working with the city of Manitou Springs thus far have been extremely interesting. I have been learning and gaining experience in many areas, such as Project Management and the intricacies of local government management.  Some of my duties as project manager has involved interactions with city officials, federal agencies and the local community I serve. 

I am looking forward to developing a career in local government and to learn the many different ways I can continue to serve my community. More importantly, I am excited to apply the knowledge I have gained through my education, military career, and daily life.

It is important to me that I have a passion for whatever path my life takes. Since I have control over that path, I am choosing to pursue a career that will provide my life with both meaning and satisfaction. My potential to succeed has always been realized in my life by the passion and  effort that I have put into it. I plan to continue to challenge myself and seek mentorship in local government.  

Jose Vargas, CW4 (Ret.)

Deadline to apply for the next cohort is June 23rd. Go to https://vlgmf.org/apply/ to apply. Send program inquiries to dtangeman@vlgmf.org or call 719-325-6416

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