Michael Stone served 4 years active duty in the Marine Corps and an additional 4 years in the Reserves, completing a tour of Iraq during Operation Desert Storm. He enlisted shortly after high school graduation, wanting to serve his country and accomplish life goals utilizing skills he knew he would gain in service. After leaving the military, he encountered challenges related to his new-found disabilities, and difficulties adjusting to civilian life.
An attempt at self-employment was unsuccessful; he remained unemployed for several frustrating years. In 2008 he was injured, with no health insurance, no job, and little hope. VA case management personnel connected him to the VA system and services. Soon after, he attended a job fair where he was connected to PRIDE Industries, providing base facilities support services at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst (JB MDL) under the AbilityOne program.
Michael began working with PRIDE Industries at JB MDL in June of 2010 as a General Maintenance Worker. After six months, he was promoted to a Carpenter Technician position. Michael is grateful for the chance to return to the work he once was able to do, and to have to ability to support his family again. He utilizes the resources of the on-site PRIDE Rehabilitation office, continuing to work closely with a Counselor and the Job Coach.
For Michael, working on the military base “provides a sense of normalcy.” Adjusting to life outside of the military continues to be a “work in progress,” but Michael believes his work with PRIDE helps him. He is participating in successful work experiences every day, and even helping to support others in learning the carpentry trade.
Through his experiences at PRIDE Industries, Michael has regained confidence in his own abilities. Michael feels that PRIDE helps us all to “recognize our compassionate side, as we learn to recognize our differences and respect our abilities, not see people’s disabilities.” Working at PRIDE at JB MDL, an AbilityOne contract, helps Michael to support his family, continue to focus on his abilities, and to be a part of a team who values his skills.
Michael is planning the next steps in his career, considering returning to school to learn more about counseling and social work. He has a strong desire to share his experience and utilize what he has learned to help other veterans. He is currently working to establish a volunteer position with Tip of the Arrow, a volunteer organization focused on helping veterans successfully transition to civilian work life. Michael would like to serve as a support person to Veterans returning from active duty, who are rejoining the civilian job force.