Veterans find community, hard work in rare firefighting crew

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — After being in firefights in Afghanistan and Iraq, members of a new elite crew are tasked with fighting fires in rugged country back in the United States.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management recently announced the certification of its first hotshot crew focused on recruiting military veterans. Its members say they experience the same camaraderie they felt in combat.

The crew received the certification after rigorous training in how to respond to the most challenging wildfires.

Chris Schott served two tours in Afghanistan with the Army’s 7th Special Forces Group and said joining the Oregon-based crew helped get his life back on track.

He says he was in denial for a long time about his post-traumatic stress disorder but began working through it by talking with the other crew members.