Career After The Military

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Richard H. Reddy served 20 years (1970-1990) in the United States Air Force as a Technical Sergeant. His exemplary service earned him a commendation medal, the bronze star in Vietnam and the good conduct medal. After retiring from the military, Richard searched for a job that would provide for his family.

While looking for a position, a friend referred him to PRIDE Industries. A simple referral ended up leading to a long-lasting career – Richard has been employed with PRIDE for more than 20 years. He started in food service at Beale AFB in Marysville, CA, and later transferred to Travis AFB in Fairfield, CA as a custodian, where he works today.

Though no longer in active duty, Richard passionately supports our military members by helping to keep the base in pristine condition.

pride-industries-_-richard“Working on base gives me a sense that I’m still at home. That’s important to me,” says Richard. As a PRIDE employee, he receives job skills development and accommodations, along with the support of his fellow PRIDE colleagues.

“My job has given me stability and has helped towards my goal of buying a home,” says Richard. “PRIDE has become my comfort zone after the military. My work gives meaning to my life.”

PRIDE Is Like Family

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Growing up in a small town in Connecticut, made Derek Ramsey, a service order dispatcher at PRIDE Industries – Los Angeles Air Force Base (LA AFB) contract, want to expand his horizons and explore the world.

This drive inspired Derek to join the US Navy as a young adult before he completed a college degree. Derek served in the Navy from 1999 – 2003 and was promoted from an E2 Seaman Apprentice to an Aviation Electrician Technician. Tours sent him twice to the Persian Gulf in 2000 – 2002. Derek was also briefly stationed in the Pacific and San Diego, CA. He retired from the military in 2002 and decided to move to Los Angeles.

Despite the skills that he learned while serving our country, Derek had difficulty finding permanent employment. Military jobs do not always translate easily to civilian work. “I have had jobs in purchasing, managing medical records, delivering mail, call center customer service – you name it, none of them worked out,” says Derek.

A factor was his diagnosis after military service of PTSD, and later Bipolar II Disorder. “My disabilities make it difficult for me to engage socially and concentrate on tasks,” Derek tells us. “I also frequently needed to take time off to go to medical appointments.” Due to lack of employer accommodations and understanding for his disabilities, Derek churned through jobs without developing a career trajectory.

Employment difficulties soon carried over into his personal life to the point where Derek found himself homeless for two years. “For a long time, I didn’t seek any help,” says Derek. Eventually, he turned to the Department of Veteran Affairs for help in finding housing. While at a doctor’s appointment, he discovered a flyer advertising for a service order dispatcher position at PRIDE Industries. He applied and was hired in early 2015.

PRIDE Industries ended up being just the opportunity that Derek needed; he recently celebrated his first year job anniversary. “This is one the longest jobs that I have ever had,” says Derek. “It was difficult, initially, being back on a military base. But I now feel comfortable working as a civilian and not as a soldier.”

The flexibility of time off for medical appointments and taking extra breaks has allowed Derek to excel in his position as a service order dispatcher. Job coaches and counselors are also available when needed to offer encouragement during challenging times. “Everyone is very supportive; PRIDE is like my family away from family,” says Derek.

Derek currently handles diverse service orders for LA AFB, including plumbing, electrical wiring, carpentry, locksmith, fire alarms, and engineering needs throughout the installation. He enjoys contributing to the running of the base. “Derek is always looking for ways to grow in his role,” says Laura Alvarez, PRIDE’s Service Order Supervisor. “He is responsible, takes great pride in his job, and is always a pleasure to work with.”

A permanent job has also helped Derek to achieve greater financial and personal stability. As a result, he has continued his education – a vital component of his career development. He recently earned a degree in Computer Networking and is now contemplating a future career in information technology.

We are proud to support veterans like Derek in employment and their career goals.

Saluting Those Who Serve: Christopher Telles

PRIDE Industries Veteran _ C. Telles 2015

‘Semper fidelis’ is a Latin phrase meaning “always faithful” or “always loyal.” Known as the Marine’s motto, it exemplifies a commitment to service and country. It also exemplifies Christopher Telles’ approach to life.

Christopher Telles, 29 served in the Marines from 2005 to 2013. He was deployed three times with tours in Afghanistan, Iraq and the Philippines. Constant physical training and multiple firefights left Christopher with physical and emotional scars. He was diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury (TBI), post-traumatic stress, and degenerative back disease.

When he returned home, Christopher became a caregiver for his grandfather, a fellow Marine veteran who was like a father to him. He also enrolled in trade school for welding and started working part-time at a welding shop in hopes of launching a career. However, as his back condition worsened, Christopher had to quit his job because his employer would not accommodate his numerous medical appointments. Fortunately, his brother-in-law, Carlos Ramirez, connected Christopher to PRIDE Industries where he also worked.

Chris was hired as a general maintenance worker supporting PRIDE Industries’ contract at Fort Bliss. Under the AbilityOne program – a federal initiative to create jobs for individuals with significant disabilities – PRIDE Industries provides base wide facilities support to this critical Army installation.  Christoper began by working on the ranges but has since moved to the Appliance Shop, where he assists with welding and plumbing, following his passion. “Getting a job with PRIDE Industries was a match made in heaven,” said Christopher. PRIDE allows Christopher to see his doctor when necessary and has encouraged him to continue his trades training. “My back was really messed up and PRIDE has really shown support by providing accommodations for doctor’s appointments, as well as for attending welding school. I don’t know of any other company that would do this,” says Christopher.

Christopher pays it forward as an active volunteer in his community. Recently, he extended his support to the American Patriots at Shadow Mountain Lake – a nonprofit group that provides rehabilitation, therapy, job networking and training to veterans like himself. The nonprofit hosts events and barbecues for veterans on a private lake that had become terribly overgrown and in desperate need of maintenance. Sixty volunteers showed with shovels and rakes, but one showed up with a tractor: Christopher. In record time, he was able to clear roads and fill pot holes while the other volunteers focused on beautification projects.

Recognizing Christopher from another event, the nonprofit’s executive director sent a letter to PRIDE’s General Manager, Jeff Belles. “It wasn’t a surprise to see a person like him helping us out,” wrote Hector Hernandez. “Mr. Christopher Telles is someone that will do bigger and better things for your company. Please thank him for us. He left his tractor there for us to continue to use; only kind-hearted people with passion and purpose do this.” Thanks to Christopher’s generosity, the area was cleared, and the grand opening remained on schedule.

Christopher lives with his wife and three children. He hopes to be a role model to them, leading by example. “It is important to me to show my children that even though I have gone through a lot in the military and now have a disability, I can still work and be a productive member of the community,” says Christopher.

After he completes his welding apprenticeship, Christopher plans to continue his education and study renewable energy at the University so he can assist PRIDE Industries in achieving Fort Bliss’s sustainability goals. “Working for PRIDE doesn’t make me feel like I am limited by my disability,” says Christopher. “PRIDE gives me the tools to work while having a disability.”

Saluting Those Who Serve: Donald Kestner

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As an 88M-Transport Operator in the United States Army, Donald Kestner was responsible for transporting personnel and cargo, providing advanced mobility on and off the battlefield.  Donald served from 1994 to 2013; he was a squad leader and operations non-commissioned officer. He directed and trained troops for missions; he was deployed to Haiti in 1994 and five times to Iraq. He served with bravery, but not without injury – however invisible to others.

Donald went through PTSD counseling and enrolled in the Wounded Warrior Transition program while waiting for his medical board review decision.  Transitioning from the military to the civilian workforce can be a challenge for all veterans, but especially those with disabilities. Attending a job fair, he met PRIDE’s recruiter, Cynthia Baca. She mentioned that PRIDE was hiring for heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) technicians who were always in demand. Donald went directly to the Western Tech College booth and signed up for HVAC school.

Always good with his hands and engineering, Donald picked up the skills quickly. He attended HVAC school part-time until he completely separated from the military; he lived with his in-laws while he looked for steady employment. Donald took advantage of an externship partnership that PRIDE shares with the technical college to gain hands-on experience and complete his credit hours. He applied for the first opening he saw at PRIDE Industries after completing his coursework. Joining PRIDE’s team in April 2014 allowed him to move to his own home just three months later.

PRIDE Industries provides base wide facilities support services to Fort Bliss through the federal AbilityOne Program. In addition to employment, PRIDE provides accommodations, training and supports to its employees. Having a steady and good-paying job helps Donald cope with anxiety and relieves some of the symptoms of his post-traumatic stress. Since joining PRIDE, he has been promoted twice. He continues to develop his skills and wants to move up through the ranks to Lead Technician. Work and life are better now. “I am happy with my job,” says Donald. “I am grateful for PRIDE.”

Saluting Those Who Serve: Charles Green

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In the battlefield, when the United States Army needs advance information about the enemy, they call on the Scouts. This was Charles Green’s first job in the military during Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm. Acting as the commander’s eyes and ears on the battlefield, Scouts track and report enemy movements, and engage the enemy whenever necessary.  In all, Charles served 21 years and was deployed multiple times. In between deployments, he was stationed at Fort Bliss, where he works today for PRIDE Industries.

Charles retired from the military in 2011. His time in the service took a physical and mental toll. Like many veterans, he struggled with the transition from military to civilian life. “I was used to taking care of myself and being financially independent. This period was difficult to adjust to,” says Charles. He got a job with a company that supplies the military but was laid off after 18 months due to company restructuring. Charles decided to attend a trades college to earn his associate’s degree in heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC).  A classmate told him about PRIDE Industries’ facilities work at Fort Bliss. Charles applied for an externship to gain practical, hands-on experience. He excelled and was hired in October 2013 as a Material Trades Helper. Charles’ work ethic and talent stood out – he was promoted twice more within a year, first to General Maintenance Worker and then to an HVAC Tech II.

Charles takes pride in his career as an HVAC technician. He has found a welcome and comfortable place to work on the base, surrounded by soldiers and military personnel. “I love my job. I have never been with a company that provides the type of training and support that PRIDE provides,” says Charles. In a place as hot and cold as the Texas desert can get, Charles says: “It brings me great satisfaction when I can fix a soldier’s air conditioning or heating.”

PRIDE provides a helper for Charles due to his physical limitations. Training provides an opportunity for advancement and career growth. Charles appreciates the support:  “Other companies give you the service orders, and you are on your own.  PRIDE gives you an opportunity, despite your disability.”

Charles’ contributions have been recognized by both PRIDE staff and military customers on base. He greatly enjoys working on a military installation and the opportunity to continue to serve the troops. He is comfortable being around military members and can relate to them on their level.  He prides himself on knowing his Military Customs and Courtesies and is happy to use them still on a daily basis. “I love my job,” Charles says. “Being an HVAC Tech has changed my perspective and brings me great satisfaction.”

 

Adapting to Civilian Life

PRIDE Industries Veteran Shawn

Transitioning from a career in the military to the civilian workforce can be difficult. Veterans gain unique skills, experiences, and leadership abilities during their time in the military, but they often face unemployment and other service-related disabilities when transitioning.

Shawn Moore, 36, is a U.S. Army veteran who served in the infantry for six years. He was also a paratrooper and attended Ranger school. “I did a couple tours in Iraq and Kuwait,” says Shawn. Shawn suffered multiple concussions from mortar and live fire attacks; he was diagnosed with a Traumatic Brain Injury.

Shawn had little real work experience before joining the military. After his service, he had difficulty finding his place in civilian life. The specialized skills he gained while serving his country did not translate easily to civilian job descriptions. Shawn enrolled in college with a plan to become a pharmacist. After three years, the responsibilities of family and a desire to get back to work made him put the plan aside. “I got to the point where I was desperate; I needed to get a job,” says Shawn.

In 2012, Shawn connected to PRIDE Industries through veteran liaison, Frank Goehringer. Soon after, he began working as a materials trades handler on a contract providing facilities services to the Judicial Council of California. Within ten months, he was on a career track: “I worked hard, and I ended up being promoted to building maintenance technician,” says Shawn.

In his new role, Shawn works with a team of highly skilled tradesmen and engineers out of the Gordon D. Schaber Sacramento County Courthouse – one of 70 courts that PRIDE Industries maintains. “I have learned a lot about electricity, HVAC and motor exchanges – all while working with the community,” says Shawn.

Shawn gained more than specialized trade skills in his position; he found something missing from his military days. “There is a bond that you get when you are in the military; it is like a brotherhood. When you get out of the military, it is hard to find that. Since joining PRIDE, I have gotten that back.”

Although Shawn has excelled in his career at PRIDE, his journey has not been easy. When Shawn first joined PRIDE, he was full of jitters and apprehension. “I was worried about keeping the job because I had not had a job for a long time,” says Shawn. “It was tough getting out of the military.” Leaving the familiar for an unknown is never easy. “They helped me bring that person out. It is nice to know that I was more than I thought I was – in a good way.”

The job has not only helped him provide for his family, but it has allowed him to grow and regain confidence in his abilities and skills. Today, Shawn has set his sights on becoming a full-fledged engineer. “Working with these guys helped me to open up,” Shawn says. “They have also steered me back to school.”

His time in the military stays with him, even today. “To be honest, I have not completely adapted to civilian life. It is always something inside of you that you keep when you get out of the military,” says Shawn. But he has a message for other veterans: “Sometimes it is difficult to take that next step. I have many friends who are veterans with disabilities, and I have told them to call PRIDE. Give it a shot.”

Shawn’s next goal is to purchase his own home and send his children to college – including the new one that he and his wife, Bobby Jean are expecting this fall. “I want to make sure that my family is taken care of.”

As a military man, Shawn took care of his country. At PRIDE, we’re proud to provide a welcome space, training and opportunity for veterans like Shawn to work their way back to taking care of their own.

Click the video below to view Shawn’s Journey to PRIDE.