Skip to main content

From Vet to Fed: U.S. Coast Guard Veteran Now Helps to Protect America’s Agricultural Resources

Posted by Blayne Harshbarger, Management and Program Analyst, APHIS in Animals
Aug 10, 2020
Blayne Harshbarger, Management Analyst for the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
Blayne Harshbarger is now a Management Analyst for the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

The United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), the agency I work with, will host virtual hiring events focused on military veterans this Summer and Fall as the agency looks to fill positions to help carry out our Agency mission to safeguard American agriculture. The first veterans virtual hiring event (PDF, 2.6 MB) APHIS will offer is on August 11, 2020 in partnership with the Department of Veteran Affairs Veterans Readiness and Employment Program (VR&E), with another to follow in the Fall. Veterans, transitioning from military life, make excellent recruits for the APHIS team—as a veteran, I know.

May 1999 marked what I thought to be the end of my career serving my nation. I quickly found out that this was just the beginning for me. After roughly five years of service in the United States Coast Guard, I was medically separated and it was time for me to start a new chapter. Thanks to the VR&E and the federal government, I continue my career of service to my country today.

Blayne Harshbarger working as a Dropmaster in the USCG
Blayne Harshbarger working as a Dropmaster in the USCG.

When medically separated from the Coast Guard, I was a veteran with decisions to make about my future. I was able to attend college through the VR&E program. My college education, combined with my military service, helped me to get started as Federal employee and 20 years later I am still working for American citizens. As a career civil servant, I have worked in Information Technology, Human Resources, Administration Management and most recently Personnel and Position Management. One of the great things about working for the U.S. Department of Agriculture is that I was able to “buy” my military time so it will now count towards my Federal civilian retirement. Another benefit is the fact that there are duty stations all over the country and I can apply to positions which interest me and relocate for a position if I decide that is what is best for my family.

My position with APHIS allows me to continue protecting America by supporting a mission focused on protecting U.S. agricultural health. In the U.S. Coast Guard, I was Air Crew on the C-130 aircraft. I worked as a Dropmaster, dropping supplies out of the back of the aircraft for Search and Rescue missions, International Ice Patrol missions and other important work related to protecting the citizens of the United States. These days, with USDA, I work on personnel and position management projects to support the protection of American agricultural and natural resources. Like the military, my path to my current role required a lot of hard work and dedication. More importantly, it allowed me to protect my country in a different way—by helping to safeguard our nation’s agriculture.

Interested in joining me at APHIS? Monitor the APHIS Career webpage for information about virtual fairs APHIS is attending and other opportunities that exist to join the APHIS team:

Blayne Harshbarger performing his duties in the U.S. Coast Guard
Blayne Harshbarger performing his duties in the U.S. Coast Guard.
Category/Topic: Animals