December 29, 2015
AIKEN, S.C. – Travis Leischner was always encouraged by his father to follow his heart and pursue his dreams. This encouragement has taken Travis on a journey that continues to unfold, shaping him into the person he is today.
Travis is a part-time employee at Savannah River Remediation (SRR) through the Veteran Cooperative Program, an educational program providing qualifying veterans part-time paid developmental jobs in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and non-STEM fields, relating to their degree of study.
Prior to coming to SRR, Travis pursued his dream of following in his father’s footsteps and spent five years of active duty in the U.S. Army.
“Like so many other Americans, September 11, 2001, made a profound impact on my life,” Travis said.
“After the events of that day, it became a dream to follow in my father’s footsteps and become a soldier when I finished high school.”
Travis’ enlistment took him on two tours of duty, one to Iraq and one to Afghanistan. On his first deployment to Iraq, Travis said his 19-year-old eyes were opened to a world he knew nothing about. He served as a combat engineer keeping the roadways safe by clearing it of bombs and other unforeseen obstacles.
On Travis’ second deployment, this time to Afghanistan, he said he looked at this tour of duty through more mature eyes. He worked alongside the Afghan Army, training them, speaking their language and doing life with them.
“I made friends in both countries,” Travis said. “I met some good people who wanted to live better lives despite bad circumstances around them.”
After five years of active duty, Travis returned to the United States and joined the Army Reserves and continued to take his father’s advice to follow his heart and pursue his dreams by enrolling at the University of South Carolina Aiken (USCA) to pursue a degree in engineering.
Travis said that he had always excelled in math, and his high school physics teacher had once told him he would make a great mechanical engineer. However, he had put this childhood dream on hold to pursue his dream of joining the Army, but after his time of active duty was up, Travis enrolled in college.
While in college, Travis continues to serve in the Army Reserves and was recently deployed to assist victims of the flooding in South Carolina in October.
The Broad River Dam in Columbia, built in the 1800s, is no longer operable, but because the open gates could not close during the storms, severe flooding occurred. Travis was sent to assist with the breach. As an E7 Sergeant First Class, Travis was given the responsibility of Logistical Coordinator. Travis and his fellow soldiers worked around the clock filling, moving and dispositioning sandbags, totaling over one ton.
Travis said in the midst of this situation, it was rewarding to watch the people of South Carolina come together and work through this tragedy together.
“As we tried to serve the people by repairing their dam, they served us by stopping by day and night, saying thank you and bringing coffee and donuts, cooking meals, loaning camping equipment and helping with laundry,” Travis said.
After his three-week deployment assisting the flood victims, Travis came home and returned to classes. He is now a sophomore and continues to enjoy his college experience at USCA and his internship at SRR, working in the Maintenance Engineering group.
Travis has learned that pursuing your dreams comes with huge challenges. In August of this year, Travis’ father had a massive heart attack and passed away. But, because his father encouraged Travis to follow his heart and go after his dreams, Travis has a fresh resolve to push through the enormous loss of his father and continue to honor him and the strong legacy he has left behind.
Travis said his father modeled how to be a good soldier, father, and friend. Travis’ dream is to now continue on with his education, earn his degree, while being the type of father to his two young children that his father was to him and his siblings.
“I have a strong support network in family and friends, but the void my father left behind has been huge,” Travis said. “His death and his legacy have filled me with fresh resolve, and my dream now is for him to live on in me by the way he taught me to live life.”
SRR is the liquid waste contractor at Savannah River Site, which is owned by the U.S. Department of Energy. SRR is a team of companies led by AECOM with partners Bechtel National, CH2M and BWX Technologies, Inc. Critical subcontractors for the contract are AREVA, EnergySolutions and URS Professional Solutions.
Point of Contact: Tina Melton Tina.Melton@srs.gov 803-208-1213