In June 2009, doctors told U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Sandra Ambotaite that she may never walk again. Less than three years later, she proved them wrong, climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, the highest peak on the African continent.
After a terrible motorcycle accident, Ambotaite was diagnosed with traumatic brain injury. In 2010, she connected with an organization in Colorado that provides services to military personnel and veterans with traumatic brain injuries. She began to rehabilitate, both physically and mentally. It was an arduous process, but she persevered to make a significant recovery.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) proudly selects service members like Ambotaite through the Department of Defense's Operation Warfighter internship program to work in ICE offices nationwide as they recover from their injuries. ICE also recruits and hires veterans through a variety of outreach and recruitment programs that take place at career fairs, transition workshops, medical centers and military installations. ICE makes every effort to place individuals in a location of his/her choice, often close to family and support systems.
"It is important to recruit veterans at ICE because they bring unique skills and experience to the workforce and the ICE mission," said Joseph Arata, ICE's chief of strategic recruitment. In fiscal year 2012 ICE brought on 190 veterans that are new to the federal government."
Currently, approximately 30 percent of the ICE workforce is comprised of veterans.
Ambotaite has worked at ICE since April 2012. As an intern in Mission Support, she logs inventory, issues special agent raid gear, conducts audit reports, processes packets and creates spreadsheets.
When asked what advice she has for other veterans with disabilities, she optimistically replies, "Life is too short to sit around think about the negatives. Use the energy that's left to learn something new, to meet someone new or to see and experience different things…the only disability in this life is a negative attitude."