Sharing story of service: Senior Background Investigator
As the nation prepares to observe Veterans Day, Inside CDCR caught up with Lt. Norma Verduzco, an Army veteran and a Senior Background Investigator for the Office of Peace Officer Selection (OPOS). CDCR is proud to employ many veterans, including Lt. Verduzco.
She enlisted with United States Army two weeks after graduating high school. She reported to basic training in Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, in 1999 as a 74D Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN) Specialist.
Verduzco served at Camp Carrol, South Korea; Fort Hood, Texas; and Fort Drum, New York. She deployed to Iraq in 2003 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. In 2006, she deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. She honorably discharged in 2008 at the rank of Staff Sergeant.
Verduzco began her career with CDCR in 2009 at Chuckawalla Valley State Prison (CVSP) as an Office Technician (OT). She became a Correctional Officer after attending the Basic Correctional Officer Academy in May 2013.
She served at Pelican Bay State Prison and CVSP, beginning work as a Background Investigator in 2017. In April 2022, she promoted to Lieutenant as an OPOS Senior Background Investigator.
Here, Verduzco shares her passion for mentoring and supervising staff and assisting veterans in starting a rewarding career at CDCR.
How did your service prepare you for a career at CDCR?
During my service, I trained countless soldiers on basic military fundamentals and advanced training as a CBRN Specialist.
This included preparing them to deploy at any moment and instilling the Army core values of loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage.
Following my discharge, I missed being a part of a mission and the camaraderie I experienced in the military.
While working as an OT, I learned CDCR had similar values and the academy training was paramilitary.
Getting back into uniform and applying my military training, leadership, and values to CDCR was an easy transition.
What benefits does CDCR offer to correctional officer applicants who are veterans?
CDCR offers eligible veterans/service members preferences during the selection process that may include:
- Veterans Preference Points for the written exam that will place them in the top rank of the eligibility list.
- Physical Fitness Test Waivers available for service members who passed the fitness test requirements for their branch of service within 12 months of date of application. This allows the applicant to move straight into the backgrounds investigation process after successful completion of the written exam.
- If a military applicant is deployed during the selection process, their application will be placed on hold until they return to finish the selection process.
- Qualified service members/veteran may be eligible to receive Montgomery and/or Post 9-11 GI Bill benefits while attending the Basic Correctional Officer Academy.
What other ways does CDCR support staff who are veterans?
In addition to offering benefits to qualified veterans, CDCR allows current military Reservist and National Guard members to continue serving. This includes time off for service-related travel, leave time for short/long term active duty; time off for training; and up to 30 days of emergency military leave.
See more stories highlighting CDCR/CCHCS staff.