Feels Like I Never Left

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Richard Wilson, joined the PRIDE Industries team at Fort Bliss, TX in 2014 after serving 18 years in the U.S. Army. Richard retired as a staff sergeant/E-6.
At PRIDE Industries, we help individuals who return with physical, emotional, and mental health disabilities that create obstacles to employment and self-sufficiency.

Richard became an orphan as a very young boy. His first few years were spent in a South Korean orphanage until an American couple adopted him. At eight years old Richard relocated to the U.S. with his new family. Learning a new language, adapting to a different culture, along with being given a new American name was challenging, recalls Richard.

He grew up in a small town in northwest Nevada. His teenage years were rough as he made wrong decisions and was going down the wrong path and barely graduated high school. Richard hungered for a fresh start. He joined the U.S. Army hoping it would provide a better future.

“I did not think I was going to make a career in the military, luckily it was exactly what I needed,” says Richard. While in the service Richard held several positions and completed three tours in Iraq. His time in the military left visible and hidden battle wounds.

Once his military career ended, he had difficulty transitioning to the civilian workforce. Richard attended multiple job fairs and joined numerous veteran’s programs, but nothing came through and he was unemployed for six months.

Though Richard aspired to continue protecting his country after retirement, life had other plans. “I wanted to be a border patrol or law enforcement agent, but I was unable due to my medical condition.”

Fortunately, Richard met Cynthia Baca at a job fair. Cynthia is a Recruiter for PRIDE at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas, focusing on individuals qualified under the AbilityOne Program. Under the AbilityOne program – a federal initiative to create jobs for individuals with significant disabilities – PRIDE Industries provides base-wide facilities support to the Army installation. “After I got into the program, Ms. Baca always updated me on new job listings and helped me apply,” says Richard. For Richard, Cynthia’s efforts to help him become employed were unlike anything he had experienced before. He credits her for his success at PRIDE, “I now refer other disabled veterans to Ms. Baca for help.” Learn more about Cynthia Baca.

Once at PRIDE, Richard began as a service order desk clerk. Later, Richard’s skills and work ethic earned him a promotion to the warehouse as a stocker. “Helping the technicians is the best part of this job,” says Richard. “I love working at PRIDE Industries, and my co-workers in the warehouse are like family.”

Although he loves his job, he does miss being a soldier. Luckily, his job at PRIDE has an additional benefit. “Working in a military community feels like I never left the Army,” says Richard. “It is rewarding contributing to the team that helps soldiers and the civilians that work with them.”

Though Richard’s military career ended with a disability and new challenges, he is grateful for the opportunity. “PRIDE allows me to continue to serve the military community,” says Richard.

We are so glad you found your place with PRIDE Industries Richard and thank you for your service. To learn more about PRIDE’s employment services for veterans visit: prideindustriesfoundation.org/programs.

Saluting Those Who Serve: Enoch Mitchell

 

pride-industries-_-enoch-mitchell“I wanted to serve in the US military to make a difference in the world.” Enoch Mitchell was inspired to join the Army after witnessing the 9/11 attacks in his hometown of NYC. In 2008, he enlisted with his older brother. With his previous education in aviation, Enoch completed his basic training in in air defense. In 2010, he deployed to Iraq to serve in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

“I felt nervous but was excited to serve my country abroad. When I left, I flew to Germany first and then to a base near Baghdad, Iraq,” says Enoch. “After leaving the airplane and feeling the heat and seeing the red sky and American casualties – this all became reality.”

In his role as a Sergeant, Enoch kept the base safe by notifying soldiers of incoming artillery and intercepting rocket fire. This demanding positioning requires an advanced knowledge of air defense systems to provide 24/7 protection. During this period, Enoch shattered his leg; metal plates and pins were placed in the bone to keep it together. Due to this injury, his tour ended in 2011.

“It felt bittersweet coming home. It was good to be back, but I missed the familiarity and closeness of the military,” says Enoch.

After returning to the United States, Enoch requested to be stationed at Ft. Bliss until he retired in 2013. Transitioning from the military into civilian life is often a challenge, especially for veterans with service disabilities. Enoch struggled to find work. He found jobs at call centers, but none gave flexible accommodations that allowed him to deal with his injured leg and as a result, were short-lived. Enoch kept looking, and fortunately in 2015 was connected with PRIDE Industries.

Previously while stationed at Ft. Bliss, Enoch had interacted with PRIDE employees working on this contract. “From my experience, I saw that PRIDE was excellent company to work for, especially with the mission to create jobs for people with disabilities.” He worked with PRIDE’s AbilityOne Recruiter, Cynthia Baca, to apply for positions. Two months later, Enoch started working as a Service Order Desk Clerk, where he handles service orders through the plumbing shop.

Enoch has become a valued member of his team. Accommodations such as an ergonomic chair and a standing desk to make computer work comfortable for his leg, as well as flexibility for stretching breaks and medical appointments, have allowed him to thrive in his position. “I cannot see myself working anywhere else,” says Enoch. “PRIDE is different because they see you as more than just an employee, but as a person. The professionalism and teamwork exhibited by my colleagues make working here pleasant.”

Looking toward the future, Enoch is aiming to get into a management position. His mother recently relocated from El Paso from Brooklyn, and he proudly bought her a vehicle. Enoch hopes to have to rest of his family relocate to El Paso to reunite and to eventually purchase a home.

“I always feel respected as an employee, and greatly enjoy my job and coworkers. When you do what you love, and you never work a day in your life,” says Enoch. “I get to do this.”

We are glad to have veterans such as Enoch be a part of the team at PRIDE Industries, and help them to achieve their new goals and dreams.

Saluting Those Who Serve: Ron Adams

pride-industries-_-ronleyadams_editedRonly “Ron” Adams grew up in the small community of Dothan, Alabama. After graduating high school, he worked in the healthcare field. Although he earned a paycheck, Ron found himself longing to be part of a bigger calling. Deciding to serve his country, Ron enlisted in the Marine Corps in 2006.

Ron soon moved to North Carolina for basic training. These preparations were both mentally and physically challenging but made him ready for the next step. When volunteers were asked to deploy to Iraq in 2007, Ron raised his hand. “The attacks of 9/11 were still fresh in my mind and heart, and I wanted to defend my country,” says Ron. “I was nervous but excited; this is what I signed up for.”

In the Marine Corps, Ron served as an E3 Lance Corporal. In this role, he drove in a convoy for long trips across the country, clearing roads of IEDs (improvised explosive devices). This work was dangerous but necessary; these weapons were responsible for a majority of the deaths to service members in Iraq.

“While traveling out with the convoys, we got to meet and be friendly with the civilians. I passed out candy and muffins to the kids,” says Ron. “It was here where I observed how much freedom we have in the United States. We have so much to be grateful for.”

After serving a one-year tour in Iraq, Ron returned home to Alabama. Even though he had returned with a greater appreciation for life in America, transitioning to a civilian life proved to be difficult. “It took a while for me to adjust; I sometimes thought that it would be easier to re-deploy,” says Ron. “However, with time, I began to heal.” With the winding down of his military career in 2010, Ron began searching for a new career path.

Finding employment turned out to be another obstacle to civilian life. Before coming to PRIDE Industries, Ron worked a series of jobs with no benefits. A friend recommended that he apply for opportunities at PRIDE’s contract at Fort Rucker, Alabama. Ron got in touch with Stephany Marshall, PRIDE’s Rehabilitation Counselor at Fort Rucker. She recommended him for a Maintenance Trades Helper position, and Ron was hired in 2014.

Due to his hard work and drive to succeed, Ron excelled in his new job. Wanting to advance, he decided to go for a pest control position. For several months, Ron diligently studied and passed the tests to earn his pest control license and gained the promotion. This position came with not only a higher paycheck but also greater independence and satisfaction in his work.

“After leaving the military, I missed being in the Marines. This feeling has continued, but working for PRIDE makes me feel at home,” says Ron. “My job on base gives me a sense of comradery and an opportunity to support the military.”

Recently, Ron purchased a home and a new vehicle and is resettling into civilian life with his wife and three children. “With this job position, I have been able to help my family out financially while continuing to participate in military life. I could not imagine being anywhere else.”

From all of us at PRIDE Industries, thank you, Ron, for your service and contributions to our country. We are proud to have you as a colleague.

Saluting Those Who Serve: Javier Heredia

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“I have always wanted to be a soldier and serve my country.” Following in the footsteps of his father, grandfather, and great-grandfather, Javier Heredia enlisted in the US Army as soon as he graduated from high school in El Paso, Texas. He served from 2010-2015, including a deployment in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.

In Afghanistan, Javier worked as an SPC 13F Forward Observer. In this demanding position, the soldier keeps track of the positions of both friendly troops and opposing forces. They also go behind enemy lines to keep track of movements and to provide the right coordinates for fire. Javier completed his tour of duty in 2015 and returned to his hometown where he was stationed at Fort Bliss, TX. Because of his disability, he was medically discharged and retired from the Army.

After retirement, Javier had no source of income or a job. “I would send in application over application without luck. I filed for unemployment and food stamps just to make sure I had money and food to support my wife and daughters,” says Javier. After receiving no offers of employment, he became even more anxious about his situation. Javier contemplated pursuing a security guard job until he received a call from for an interview with PRIDE Industries. Two weeks later, he was officially employed.

In March 2016, Javier joined the PRIDE Industries team at Fort Bliss, as a Property and Fleet Clerk, where PRIDE provides facilities support services through the federal AbilityOne Program. Javier helps operations run smoothly on base by managing tool and equipment inventory, property management and vehicle maintenance. “I could not ask for a better job. Supporting a military base has helped create a smoother transition to civilian life” says Javier.  “Even though I am still learning, I always feel like a respected member of the team; everyone has an important part to contribute to PRIDE’s mission.”

With a steady job, Javier now aims to buy a house. His long-term plan is to attend college and study military history to become a teacher. Meanwhile, he would like to keep learning new skills through his job at PRIDE and expand his knowledge of his trade. “PRIDE has supported me with excellent training and motivated me to succeed,” says Javier. “It is a great company. Working here has had a very positive effect on my life.”

We thank you, Javier, for your service. PRIDE Industries is proud to support veterans such as Javier through their transition to civilian life while pursuing their careers and dreams.