VFV’s VITA Fund – Third Recipient
Date: November 15, 2017
My name is Alex. On September 6th, 2011 I joined the United States Army as MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) 91A – M1 Abrams Tank Systems Maintainer. As a 91A, I maintained the combat readiness and general operability of the M1 Abrams tank. In short, I was a tank mechanic. In the Army, I traveled around the country to places like Georgia, South Carolina and Mississippi, and across the world to South Korea. I served my country honorably until my ETS on January 15th, 2015
Upon ETS (Expiration Term of Service), I had everything planned out; at least I thought I did. I was to attend ITT Technical Institute in the town I grew up – Oxnard, CA. I was to major in Network Security. IT had always been a bit of a dream job of mine, specifically network security.
As a kid, I enjoyed going on hacking boards and worked with my dad at his company –
Affordable Computers. After getting out, I spent a little over a year working at temporary jobs while I reintegrated to civilian life. I started school in March of 2016 and I was loving it. I was learning my passion and I felt I was closer to achieving my dream than ever before… then they shut all campuses down.
In a case of painful irony, the ITT closed their doors on the 6th of September, 2016 – five years to the day I entered the service. I had used over four months of my Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits going to ITT, likely to never have it returned to me, despite the fact that I did not get even and associates degree. I was lost, and I felt like my dream had been crushed. I thought that my one and only shot to get into the field I was passionate about had fallen through. What followed was almost a year of job rejections and layoffs.
I started working part-time at Dollar Tree as a way to pay the bills. Though that job was a seasonal one, the hiring manager said that if I worked hard, he would hire me on full-time and permanently. After the holiday season was over, I got called into the manager’s office one day and was told they could not afford to keep any of the seasonal workers on and were laying me off. I felt defeated and was angry at the world.
At the time I was living with my parents, so to keep me going I told myself that at least I had a roof over my head. A few weeks later the property manager told my parents that they either had to sign me on to the lease or I had to move out. I had horrible credit and my parents could not afford another rent-raise. Almost overnight, I was homeless.
Eventually, I found a shelter for military veterans. They would assist me in getting essential job skills and stable housing through section 8, all the while providing me with food and shelter.
Eventually, I found a job working for a warehouse and a section 8 eligible apartment. All this happened on my birthday and was the best birthday I have ever received. I was finally okay, and the storm was finally over. In mid-December of 2016, I was laid off from that job. I was so scared that I was about to fall back into the vicious cycle of homelessness; that if I did I may never get out of it again. I was ashamed, I felt I let my parents down, that I let myself down, that I somehow let my country down; I felt I had tarnished the good name of every veteran out there, and that I was not deserving of the title of United States Veteran. To my great protest, the property manager insisted I live there rent-free until I could find somewhere I could live safely. Eventually, I moved back with my parents as they had worked out a deal with their property manager, and I started looking for work.
I had found another career opportunity working for a window coverings company as an apprentice installer. My interview was scheduled for January 20th of 2017. This job was practically guaranteed, as they really wanted to hire a veteran and I would be the only one they were interviewing. On January 16th , 2016, I was long-boarding with my friends – a hobby I enjoyed very much. That night, close to midnight, I had fallen and hit my head. I don’t remember much of anything, but my friends said I had four seizures and died twice on the table. When I awoke from the 4-day coma, I immediately sat upright and asked my mom – who was there along with my whole and frantically asked, “What day is it?!” my mom told me it was the 20th. I freaked out explaining that my interview was for today and that if I missed it I would lose the opportunity. She was able to call and inform the interviewer of the situation and practically saved the day. After recovering from the accident, I went to the rescheduled interview and landed the job.
In August, I was laid off from that job. I had gotten into a car accident a few weeks earlier and was now without a vehicle and without a job. I had felt like the universe was against me. Eventually, I was contacted by Jake, Terry’s son, on RallyPoint – a military veteran version of LinkedIn. He told me about the veteran IT apprenticeship program, so I decided to check it out. After looking into it and talking to Terry, I signed up. It seemed like a sign, another shot, and it turns out it was. I had a phone interview the other day which I aced. I will be going in for an in-person interview a few days from now. Were it not for the classes in this apprenticeship program, I would not have done so well in the phone interview. I am on my way to a career as a network engineer and on my way to a stable, financially secure life, and I owe it all to the apprenticeship program.
Well, that’s about it for my story. Thank you for taking the time to read it.
VFV is in need of funding as we have a waiting list of about 15 and growing daily and our goal is to put 2,000 into this program each year! It takes $500 to fund one Veteran. There are many ways to give; credit card, check, donate a car, truck, RV, yacht, property, business… many options.
VFV strategically partners with ETAC in the provision of the IT Apprenticeship Program. VFV is the funding partner. ETAC the delivery partner. We are grateful for the dedication and commitment ETAC gives to veterans.
Check out USVeteranJobs.com for more information.