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NEWS | July 12, 2023

Finding the Taliban’s IED was the best thing that ever happened to me facebook sharing buttontwitter sharing buttonlinkedin sharing buttonpinterest sharing buttonsharethis sharing button

By MaryTherese Griffin ARMY

Retired Army Staff Sgt. Kory Ferris makes no bones about it when he looks at where his life is today. He works for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Having his life change forever when he hit an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) in Afghanistan in 2011 is the catalyst he says to his life now.

“I joke at work when telling my story - I tell people I helped the local Taliban find misplaced IEDs...and it was the best thing that’s ever happened to me; that part’s no joke.”

Ferris describes that fateful day when their Stryker interim armored vehicle hit an IED and blew off the road and into a gully in Kandahar, Afghanistan.

“There were eleven in the vehicle and one passed away. Sgt. 1st Class John McCain, he didn’t make it. The rest of us were medevacked out. I had two compressing fractures in my spine, fractured all my ribs, a collapsed lung, concussion, and I lost teeth.” He went to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany then on to Walter Reed for 18 months to recover and overcome.

He admits he never knew what a Soldier Recovery Unit was or a Warrior Transition Battalion (WTB) as they were called back then. He arrived at Walter Reed and reality set in. “There was a stigma to all this…I was in a unit with people who were missing limbs or who were in wheelchairs or needed prosthetics, but I had everything to function, so you feel out of place. You wonder why I am here like “this” and they are not?”

He learned the now Army Recovery Care Program is for everyone with a multitude of opportunities not only to get better but to succeed in life after the Army. Once he learned he was to be medically retired he knew he needed to make a plan. “I definitely got more involved in the WTB at the time, that’s where your primary care manager handled the day to day and tracking recovery steps.”

There was an Operation War Fighter event in the bottom level of his building, and he just happened to be walking by, so he thought why not?
“I saw a booth for the Office of Director of National Intelligence, so I walked up and struck up a conversation. I gave them my resume and they asked if I wanted to come check out the building and meet some folks, so I did and here I am 12 years later still working there. And I love it.”

He’s done a host of things over these 12 years at the National Counterterrorism Center. Everything from Operations Officer in the watch center, to a counterterrorism analyst for the area of the Horn of Africa or even a Senior Representative based in Chicago to the Midwest providing partnerships at the local state and national level.

“I’ve been able to work with some amazing people at amazing agencies and I admit I’ve struggled wondering do I belong? Do I fit in? The answer is yes! I’ve worked just as hard, and I can hold my own."

He wants other Soldiers to understand their leadership skills and jobs in the Army equate to sought after skills in today’s workforce. “Maybe I didn’t go to an Ivy League school, but I worked hard in the Army and bring something different to the table and that has a lot of value.”

“Not only is there life after the Army, but there is also life for everybody outside the Army if you just open your eyes and take a leap of faith. I know it’s scary but sometimes you have to try those opportunities that come knocking. Don’t be afraid to say yes.”

Saying yes to searching for your next step once you know you will separate from the Army, he says, is crucial. He hopes to be part of any Soldier’s future search.

“My job is making sure we have qualified applicants for this career field that is never going away. To be honest I want to make a way to bring more wounded warriors and Veterans into my organization to have the same opportunity that I did.” They post all their vacancies on USA Jobs under Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

No matter what path you’ve taken, even the scary ones, Ferris says to find the silver lining. “Here I am working my dream job, I’ve got a wonderful wife and two beautiful little girls that never would have happened if that path hadn’t unfolded.”