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Strengthening Our Military Families - Success Stories

Veteran Turns Right Place, Right Time into Employment

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Army veteran Angelina Price turned being in the right place at the right time into full-time employment thanks to a DOL veterans work study program at the Spartanburg Workforce Center in South Carolina. Price, who served two tours of duty in Afghanistan, was paid to work in Spartanburg’s career counseling office, while also attending school and caring for her young son. When a B2B telemarketing company came to the office one day looking for potential employees, Price was recommended on the spot by her supervisor. Price got the job and has since been promoted, earning a higher salary with benefits. She eventually would like to continue schooling in the health field. Price said the program made her "more marketable” and helped her transition from military to civilian life.

Army Vet Pioneers Joint Job Corps/VETS Program

Kiersten Coats, Army veteran and student at the Earl C. Clements Job Corps Center in Morganfield, Kentucky

Twenty-two year old Army veteran Kiersten Coats is one of the scores of pioneers in a new demonstration program — co-sponsored by DOL's Employment and Training Administration's Job Corps program and the Veterans' Employment and Training Service — designed to help service personnel transition from the military to civilian life. A student at the Earl C. Clements Job Corps Center in Morganfield, Ky., Coats is studying electrical work, carpentry and landscaping with an eye towards graduating soon with a certificate in facilities maintenance. Coats said the program "is a continual learning experience" helping her to acquire new skills for the job market. The program provides an accelerated, customized curriculum developed specifically for veterans who are counseled in job searching, resume drafting, and job interviewing skills. They are then assigned to a career transition counselor who assists with job placement or enrollment in higher education. Besides Clements, the new program is offered at Atterbury Job Corps Center in Edinburgh, Ind., and the Excelsior Springs Job Corps Center in Excelsior Springs, Mo.

Disabled Vet Finds Employment through DOL-Funded Programs

Disabled Army veteran Jason Pearson. Click on image for full size picture

Disabled Army veteran Jason Pearson landed a job as a lawyer in a matter of weeks thanks to advice and guidance he received from two DOL-funded programs in Michigan. A Vocational Rehabilitation & Employment Services staffer taught Pearson how to look for employment and informed him about the Work Opportunity Tax Credit offered to employers who hire the disabled. Meanwhile, a Veterans Service representative helped Pearson rework his cover letter and resume which better highlighted his qualifications. Shortly after, Pearson received a job interview with Michigan's Dale Sprik & Associates law firm. When he made the employer aware of the WOTC, he was offered a job. Having recently passed the bar, Pearson said he hopes to do pro bono legal work with veterans in the future. The two programs funded by the department "gave me a chance to reach my full potential," Pearson said.

Iraq Veteran Wi$es Up Thanks To Women's Bureau

Photo of Theresa Sutton

Being 7,000 miles from home while deployed in Iraq didn't deter staff sergeant Theresa Sutton from learning online about managing her finances. She took full advantage of the Wi$eup program, funded by the Department's Women's Bureau.

The 40 year old supply specialist and mother of three said she "was tired of living from paycheck to paycheck." So while deployed at the base, she took Wi$eup courses in budgeting and savings which lead to a percentage of her pay being invested monthly in a Thrift Savings Plan. Now back home in Texas, she also uses her financial knowledge to help families whose loved ones are deployed abroad.

"I didn't know anything about savings until the Wi$eup program," Sutton said. The program "made me realize how important savings are to me and my family."

Job Corps Grad Plans to Help Military Families

Alexis Baker

Alexis Baker was in between jobs and unclear about what she wanted to do with her life, when a family member mentioned the nursing courses offered at the Hawaii Job Corps. That advice — and a chance meeting with the Obamas — has lead Baker down an educational path aimed at counseling military families whose members have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. Baker enrolled and eventually graduated from Job Corps with a health occupation certificate. While working at a pharmacy, she parlayed that experience into earning an associate degree at a two-year college and is finishing her studies in social work at Hawai'i Pacific University. While her husband currently serves in Iraq, Baker hopes to put her education to good use, offering help to families coping with the absence of loved ones serving abroad. This desire was reinforced from a chance Christmas meeting with the President and Mrs. Obama at a Hawaiian military base. Baker was impressed with how humble and interested the President and First Lady were towards the troops they met and she hopes to do likewise. Baker said Job Corps set the stage for her decision to help military people, "gave me the opportunity to attend college," and pushed her "to do my very best."

Veteran's Career Powered by DOL Funding

Jason Morgan. Click on image for larger photo.

The power remains on in Oregon thanks to the efforts of Jason Morgan, a Navy veteran, whose work as a linesman for the Asplundh Tree Expert Company involves pruning trees and branches from high-voltage electrical lines. Morgan, whose small business construction company closed a few years ago, felt his military and business backgrounds would qualify him for a linesman job for companies involved in delivering uninterrupted electricity to the public.

Andrew Zorbrist. Click on image for larger photo.

Morgans good fortune, however, can be directly traced to the hard work of DOL's Disabled Veteran Outreach Program Specialist Andrew Zobrist who is also a veteran. Zobrist helped the 40-year-old Morgan select a career, then apply for and receive training through a scholarship funded by the department's Veterans Employment and Training Service. After taking classes offered by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration on safety equipment operations, climbing and basic electricity, Morgan graduated and was immediately hired by Asplundh.

Morgan said of Zobrists efforts, "Andrew helped me out a lot, knew exactly what to do and connected me with the right people. Without him, none of this would have happened." On helping Morgan, Zobrist said, "It is a huge challenge to get people back into the workforce because of the economy, so when it works out it feels really good."

Veteran Helps Veteran Find Meaningful Employment

James Thompson. Click on image for larger photo and more info.

When a 65-year-old Navy veteran felt he was too old to find work, Veteran Employment Representative James Thompson offered him a message of hope and comprehensive services that eventually lead to a full-time job. Thompson, who works in Spartanburg, SC, helped his client receive intensive career guidance in resume preparation and computer classes, plus job training in occupations such as forklift operations. Eventually the veteran received a full-time job offer in a local warehouse and distribution operations center. "The stereotype is that if you are over 40, you are too old to work," said Thompson, a Navy veteran himself. "We let employers know that these are veterans and that — no matter their age — they can still do the job."

Workforce Program Helps Marine Veteran Land Lab Tech Job

Marine veteran George 'Woody' Garner.  Click on image for larger photo and more info.

Marine veteran George "Woody" Garner has held a lot of jobs in his life – bouncer, tattoo artist, cab driver and laborer. He has felt the sting of unemployment and the uncertainty of finding seasonal work each year. But with help provided by the DOL-funded Pikes Peak Workforce center in Colorado, Garner has finally settled into a stable, full-time career. With assistance from the Center and the Colorado Asphalt and Paving Association, Garner took three months of courses to became certified as a laboratory technician. He now tests the quality of asphalt used on various road projects by his employer, a construction company. About the training he received, Garner said, "I am very grateful for government funding of programs to help veterans get jobs in the open market. The government really cares for its veterans."

Efforts by Many Lead to Job Training For Veteran

Photo of Harold Irwin

Six degrees of separation led Marine Corps veteran Harold Irwin to a paid job training position at California’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

Irwin had received DOL-funded Workforce Development career counseling in Hawaii. There, Irwin also attended a forum featuring Assistant Secretary for Veterans’ Employment and Training Services Raymond Jefferson. Jefferson implored his audience to hire more veterans, which led to a tip from local businessman Mike Gleason regarding the Livermore training program.

With the help of local veterans’ employment representative Mel Arai, Irwin polished off his resume, highlighting his education and skill sets. Soon, the experienced marine was selected by Livermore for the six month paid program as a technical trainee in the Mechanical Maintenance Division. Irwin hopes to parlay the experience into a green job.

“I am heading somewhere pretty exciting,” Irwin said about his future.

DOL Program Helps Homeless Veteran Find Work

Case worker Jan Broers. Click on image for larger photo and more info.

When the case of a homeless Army veteran in Iowa who was battling substance abuse came to Jan Broers' attention, she immediately swung into action. Thanks to a $200,000 grant from DOL to Goodwill Industries of Central Iowa, case worker Broers was able to provide the veteran with a place to live, medical attention, and a stipend for his education and training under the Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program. She helped the veteran get a job at a local convenience store, where he has since been promoted to a management position. Boers said the department-funded program has helped more than 100 homeless veterans. "It is a fabulous opportunity that DOL provides these individuals to get back up on their feet," Boers added.