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National Guard deployment leads to OSH employment

Thursday, October 27, 2022

During the pandemic, dozens of Oregon National Guard members deployed in waves to Oregon State Hospital (OSH) as part of a relief mission to fill COVID-19 staffing shortages statewide. Many ended up finding new careers at OSH.

So far, at least 15 Oregon National Guard members who deployed to OSH during the pandemic are now employees at the hospital. Two of them are Ross Butac, OSH Mental Health Security Technician, and Zenas Sigrah, OSH Mental Health Therapy Technician. Both were recently interviewed by TV media about the National Guard’s impact on the hospital’s recruitment efforts. 

National Guard members are an ideal fit for the hospital because they understand the necessity of teamwork and importance of completing a mission, OSH Security Director Adam Giblin told KATU-TV.

“Here, our mission is providing treatment to patients," said Giblin, a U.S. Army veteran.

Butac has served in the National Guard for 16 years and previously worked in retail. He deployed to OSH twice during the pandemic and started working at OSH as a full-time employee in September 2021. After serving in the Guard from 2011 to 2017, Sigrah reenlisted in the Guard in late 2021 and was part of the final deployment at OSH in early January 2021.

Both said that supporting the mission at OSH drew them to apply for permanent positions at the hospital.

“It feels amazing because you’re a part of something bigger than just yourself,” Butac told KATU-TV. “The biggest thing that I’ve seen so far is being able to see a patient go off into the community into a group home from physically being unable to help themselves to physically able to help themselves and then some.”

Sigrah said he readily volunteered to join the response – in part to feed his childhood curiosity about the state’s public psychiatry hospital and to potentially find a new career.

“I remember it as a kid passing by and seeing the bars on the window and there was always this mystery about the place, so I wanted to learn more about it and

also learn more about opportunities to work with the state,” Sigrah said. “I knew it would be good pay, benefits and could lead to more career opportunities.”

Sigrah moved into his MHTT role with experience as a medic in the National Guard, but acknowledged, it’s a different treatment and learning environment. OSH provides training to new employees before they step foot in a patient unit. Toward the end of their onboarding, new hires shadow experienced staff before they “graduate” to working on a unit with a team. Along the way, new employees share their early experiences with their onboarding cohort – which creates more learning opportunities.

“That helped a lot,” he said about the connections he made with his cohort. “We created our own message group so we can keep up with each other in the unit because some days are rough, and you need to vent to help get through the day. I felt like I had a really good group.”

The hospital also provides ongoing training and education to employees throughout their careers and opportunities for advancement – within OSH and the state.

Sigrah said his new job comes with challenges and he also sees the opportunities, “I know it’s a good job and I know what I do here can help people. I’m helping out patients, and other coworkers too. I just know how much effort I put in is going to help others and that makes me feel good.” Check out the KATU-TV and KGW-TV interviews online. Learn more about OSH job opportunities.



Zenas Sigrah applied to work at OSH after being deployed to the hospital as part of the Oregon National Guard.

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