U.S. Military personnel returning home from combat have a hard enough time adjusting to civilian life, let alone attempting to find suitable employment. Veterans are often burdened with mental health issues or PTSD on top of that.

That’s why this nonprofit is hiring those veterans to protect endangered South African wildlife from poachers.

Veterans Empowered to Protect African Wildlife (VETPAW) gives soldiers the chance to redeploy their military knowledge and combat expertise on behalf of elephants and rhinos. These jobs put the veterans’ skills to good use, while also providing emotionally meaningful work to save lives.

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African park rangers are often shot by the poachers who are intent on killing animals for their ivory tusks or horns. With the training and assistance provided by the VETPAW soldiers, conservationists can work to defend the massive mammals, while knowing someone has their own back.

The Limpopo-based VETPAW teams manage several private land reserves around the region. According to the Guardian, their presence also offers valuable protection for the local farmers and communities that are often harmed by invading poachers.

“When I returned to civilian life after the Marine Corp, I lost myself. I didn’t really know what I was here for,” says VETPAW founder Ryan Tate. “Learning about the brutality of the poaching crisis and the rangers who are dying protecting wildlife, hit me harder than anything I’d ever seen—and I’ve seen some crazy stuff. I realized I have the skills necessary to help save animals and the people who risk their lives daily.”

“That’s when I decided to create VETPAW.”

(WATCH the video below) – Photo credit: Veterans of VETPAW, Youtube

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