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NASA Security Specialist/Program Protection Officer

Eric Combs

Eric Combs standing next to astronaut suit

I have worked for the Federal government as a civil servant for over 23 years including military service with US Air Force from 1987 - 1990 (Active) and 1991 - 2003 (AF Reserves). I currently work for NASA at the Glenn Research Center (GRC) in Cleveland Ohio since July 2015 and serve as a GS-14 Security Specialist with the Office of Protective Services (OPS). My agency "NASA" and organization "OPS" is a great place to work from the mission I support, to the nature of the work I do and the people I work with and for. I find my job both challenging and rewarding in knowing that I play a critical role in the protection of taxpayer government assets to include all personnel who work at the GRC and all the visitors who come visit us each day here at NASA. My program is responsible for ensuring that all physical security controls are in place to protect these valuable assets and personnel in the forms of electronic physical access control systems, alarms, close circuit TV, camera systems, gates, barriers, and intrusion detection systems. I have been very lucky with the opportunities that have presented themselves and the ability to take advantage in looking and moving forward in my career as a civil servant. I have held many rewarding positions as a Command and Control Specialist and Satellite Control Scheduler with the Dept. of Air Force, an Emergency Operations Specialist with FEMA, a Security Specialist with Homeland Security under the Secretary of DHS, and Security Manager for Dept. of Interior and Dept. of Defense. I attribute my success to my military service and experience that provided me an opportunity to get into the civil service program through the Air Force Reserves Air Reserve Technician (ART) program. I was hired as a Technical Sergeant, GS-7 ART in 1993 and was promoted to Master Sergeant, GS-9 in 1995 in which I proudly served until 1999. Working as a Command and Control (C2) Superintendent for a C-130 Airlift Wing Command Post I supported many real world operations including the Bosnian conflict, Iraq no-fly expeditionary force mission and supported special operations in South America. The training and real-world experiences equipped me with the skill sets that would later provide me with the opportunities to apply for other jobs that would further my career and aspirations with the government agencies I have worked for. One of my keys to success has been the willingness to look for jobs that I could apply my experience, knowledge, training and education and evaluating what I could contribute and what benefits could follow with grade advancements, training, and responsibility. Every job has allowed me to learn new skills, take on more responsibility and opened new doors that I was willing to walk through when the time was right and it presented itself. Although this has taken great sacrifice and a toll on my family in moving around to follow those opportunities it has also provided some great life time and life changing experiences not only with the jobs and positions I have served in but also providing an experience for my family. These opportunities has allowed us to live and explore great new locations across this great nation like Colorado, Seattle Washington, Washington DC, Sioux Falls South Dakota, San Antonio Texas and now Ohio. It has provided me and my family with new life-long friends that we have met along the way and we share those experiences together which has shaped who we are individually and as a family. With my experience in applying and being selected for Federal jobs I can pass on some critical steps for Vets that has made a difference in being identified as a top tier candidate for the positions I have applied and been selected for. Applicable experience, training and education as they relate to the job being applied for is very important and is a big part of the hiring process to be able to capture that experience in a format that will get the application passed through the review process for the hiring officials review to identify the best possible candidates for the job. Because of the limited number of jobs available in the Federal government and competitiveness of the multitudes of applicants vying for those jobs Vets have a great advantage in applying their VEOA and veterans preference when applying for Federal positions along with their related experience. This has definitely helped me in placing me within the top tier groups of candidates when I have applied for jobs and put me in a position to get called for an interview. After that it is totally on the candidate to shine and provide the hiring official with the best interview possible to highlight what experience has equipped you to be the best person for the job. Another piece of advice I could relay to Vets based on my learning experience is to be patient when applying for jobs because not all hiring agencies ever respond back with any confirmation that you have ever been referred, not referred, reviewed, submitted to hiring official etc. Applicants should not be discouraged if not selected or have not received any status on a job that was applied for. Being consistent and willing to put in the effort to apply for job openings is key and to not to focus on any one dream job because you never know what doors may be opening if you get into something that may have not been on the radar to provide some great life experiences. I myself had been discouraged because I thought the job I did not get selected for was my dream job but in the end realize that it may have not been the right time, place or opportunity for me to continue on. I have had a successful career and I can look back and say that all the choices, sacrifices, successes and failures have led me on a path that I would not change and am happy and grateful for the opportunities that have been given to me. Do not be afraid of the unknown, approach it with excitement, enthusiasm, and with vigor and walk through those opened doors because it may lead to the best experience and adventure of your life.


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