Highlight: Palmetto Warrior Connection

Sara Chuzie Uncategorized

As Jason Perry sat in front of a computer, looking for work again, he ran across an ad for a veterans’ program. A Veterans for Manufacturing training was being held at Goodwill for two weeks. “This is my chance”, he thought, “my chance to get back on my feet”.

Jason enlisted in the United States Navy right out of high school. While in the Navy he was an aviation machinist, specifically working on jet engines. After getting out of the Navy, he later went to work for Boeing. During his time at Boeing, as a direct hire, he performed manufacturing duties for their aircrafts.

About five years later, Jason was in a terrible car accident. He broke several bones in his body including his neck and back. The road to recovery was going to be long and he agreed to voluntarily resign from his position at Boeing. Just over one year later, Jason was fully recovered from the accident and was ready to get back to work. However, he discovered he couldn’t get his old job back and finding employment became difficult.

A Veterans for Manufacturing program funded by a grant from Boeing, in conjunction with Operation GoodJobs and Palmetto Training Inc., was just what somebody like Jason needed. He thought, “I’m ready to get back to work! This is a great opportunity to grow as a person.” He hoped to get a refresher in manufacturing, and maybe learn something new.

Getting enrolled into Operation GoodJobs and applying to the Veterans for Manufacturing program provided hope that he could be successful again. This program was the “difference between success and poverty for me. It affords me the opportunity to be stable again, so it means a lot,” Jason said during his interview for the manufacturing program. Jason passed all of the screenings, did well on the interview, and was selected for the program. The Operation GoodJobs staff tried to inform Jason of the good news. They sent emails and left messages with his brother, as Jason didn’t have a phone of his own. Friday evening Jason called back and received the news, “Really? That’s great news, thank you so much!” Jason exclaimed, followed up with many questions so that he could be as prepared as possible for the first day of training that next Monday.

Throughout the course of the two-week program, Jason would be dropped off and picked up by his mom. Between Jason, his mom, and his brother, they shared one vehicle. Some days he would get the car and drive himself to class. Even with having to share one car amongst the three of them, he was never late and never missed a day of the program. He was very dedicated to the program.

The last day of the program was graduation, followed by a mini job fair set up with local manufacturing companies. The day before graduation mock interviews were held along with evaluations of appearance and interview performance. It was then that the Operation GoodJobs staff learned that Jason didn’t have shoes or clothes appropriate for job interviews, nor the money to buy such articles. Through Palmetto Warrior Connection’s housing advocate and Palmetto Goodwill’s clothing voucher program, Jason was able to get some shoes and a new jacket for interviews the following day.

Jason graduated the Veterans for Manufacturing program, collected his certificate, and focused on his interviews. As a result of completing the program and interviews at the mini job fair, he was offered positions from more than one company and ultimately accepted a position with DC Machine. That same day, Jason inquired with the PWC staff about getting some aid to pay for rent that month. Palmetto Warrior Connection’s Housing Advocate, along with team members, worked to get a check request in with Palmetto Goodwill. The fact that Jason just accepted a new job, and would be starting soon, made the team feel confident that Jason would not become dependent on financial aid and, therefore, was able to receive help paying for his rent. In December of 2017, Jason was selected by Palmetto Goodwill and Palmetto Warrior Connection to receive a donated car which completed his independence and positively impacted his ability to get to his job and to sustain his employment. Jason has been doing very well at his new job in the manufacturing industry and has surpassed expectations. He is well on his way to being fully independent and self-sufficient. “Thank you so much for all your help and giving me this opportunity to get back on my own feet”, said Jason.

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