The mission of Veterans Empowered to Protect African Wildlife is to help end the African poaching crisis and conserve endangered species. Mission accomplishment is achieved by utilizing the unique skills and experience of post-9/11 U.S. veterans to train park rangers and support their communities. The skills garnered by these veterans include; land navigation/orienteering, mission planning, patrolling principles, information collection, partner building, partner training, advanced critical thinking, and critical situation decision-making. To ensure that the most capable personnel are brought onto the team their backgrounds much be validated and screened, and their knowledge, skills, and abilities must be assessed to select them from a pool of their peers.
Assessment & Selection
Once candidates are notified of their selection for the course, they receive a required gear list along with travel instructions and a list of required documents that they will need to have on training day one. The course is free of charge for all candidates, but they are required to cover their equipment and travel expenses. All candidates are required to have a valid driver’s license, a current passport, a non-disclosure agreement, release of liability/hold harmless agreement, a physical completed by their doctor, a 14-panel drug screening verified by a licensed facility, and an FBI background check. Before conducting any training, their paperwork is verified. From this point forward the candidates are being observed and evaluated by cadre not only for their performance and class standing, but identifying possible leaders.
Because of the physical demands of this work the candidates undergo an arduous Modified Physical Readiness Evaluation that is task-oriented and graded by time from beginning to end. The candidates are not informed of each task until they complete the previous one, nor do they know when it will end. A failure to complete the MPRE will result in immediate removal from the course.
Early the next morning, candidates begin their Land Navigation Practical Application for score starting in night-time conditions moving into daylight. The candidates have 5-hours to plot and find 5 points with verification by an orienteering punch. The candidates must find at least 4 out of 5 points within the time limit to pass. Any failures are remediated the very next day, and an inability to pass remediation will result in their removal from the course. As training day two continues the candidates begin classes for firearms handling/safety, marksmanship fundamentals, firearms tactics/principles, and US & ZA laws in regards to carrying firearms legally.
Training day three is spent all day on the range with a practical application of TD-2 firearms classes ending with a firearms proficiency qualification course that requires an 80% or higher to pass. Any failures are remediated with any remediation failures being immediately removed from the class. ANY SAFETY VIOLATIONS OR NEGLIGENT DISCHARGES are grounds for IMMEDIATE removal from the range and the course.
Candidates must receive a “GO” for all three of these initial events to complete the A&S course. They will receive a verbal & written counseling by their cadre and informed that completion of the class does not guarantee a conditional offer/contract with VETPAW. The remainder of the training encompasses curricula in Tactical Medical Training (1-day), Human Terrain Mapping and Behavior Pattern Recognition (2-days), Man-tracking (1-day), VETPAW Team SOPs (this includes Reporting Requirements, Team Administrative Requirements, Wildlife Conservation Best Practices, and Social Media Best Practices 1-day) and Scenario-based Training (2-days).
The main focus of all team member training is to exercise the advanced critical thinking and decision-making abilities that our Veterans have received through their military and combat experience. These skills are the bare minimum of what is required for them to serve as a team member. The expectation is that as a functioning team member the candidates will be able to leverage their tacit and explicit knowledge to advise and assist the rangers, conservationists, and law enforcement officers who are on the ground to be more effective at their jobs.
The VETPAW Team Member Candidate Assessment & Selection Course is the linchpin to VETPAW’s main effort in conservation. Candidates must be physically and mentally fit with sound The Veterans who graduate and are accepted for work as a Team Member are not only capable members of the VETPAW Team, but they are ambassadors for their country, their service, wildlife conservation, and for our organization. It is imperative as it is with any other high profile and high-risk industry that an organization take seriously the caliber of personnel that they bring onto their staff. It is important to remember that while doing so many of these individuals have undergone many crucibles to attain their status as combat veterans. It is the intention that the A&S course pays homage to that service while ensuring that VETPAW’s high value for brilliance in the basics and standards for excellence are achieved.
Do I have to be a veteran to apply?
Yes. The mission of VETPAW is not only to preserve endangered African Wildlife, but to empower military veterans and utilize the skills and experiences they have acquired during their time in the armed forces.
Does VETPAW take applications from veterans of countries outside of the United States?
Yes, we accept applications from non-U.S. veterans as long as they can provide proof of honorable discharge from military service.
How do I prepare for the Modified Physical Readiness Evaluation?
If you can maintain a decent pace for 3-5 miles (10 min/mile pace), hike 6-8 miles with a 35 lb pack, and can do 15-20 pullups/50 pushups and 50 crunches, you’ll be more than ready.
How much does it cost to attend the selection course?
The only cost associated with the Selection Course is the cost of transportation to and from the course and the gear on the gear list. Course costs, food, and lodging free of charge for the candidates while attending.
Are VETPAW members hired employees or contracted for deployments?
All VETPAW team members are on-boarded as independent contractors.
How long and how frequent are deployments?
- Deployments are 90 days. The frequency of deployments is dependent on the availability of spots and the schedule of the contracted member.
- There are volunteer opportunities available for shorter durations, but to become a team member you must first graduate the candidate assessment & selection course.
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