Tag Archives: veteran

Skills without the Means

9 Sep

James Poissot - PhotoJames Poissot is no stranger to hard work and unfortunately harder times.  Following high school, he joined the U.S. Marine Corps.  After serving 9 years, including 4 tours in Afghanistan and 5 tours in Iraq, James exited the military and returned to the civilian workforce in the midst of the Great Recession.

Originally from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, James traveled around the U.S., unsure of where he could plant roots. SXSW might have brought James to Austin but the people he met kept him here.

“Never had anybody anywhere shown that much concern for me,” says James. “Every other place in the country treats their veterans poorly. They just offer words, no help.”

While he may have found the city he wanted to call home, James still had one significant hurdle to overcome.  Despite having acquired some very specific skills in the military, including working as an auto mechanic, James struggled to find gainful employment.  This lack of steady employment unfortunately led James to become homeless for several years.

Challenges and hurdles aside, James refused to give up hope, applying for jobs regularly.

“It felt like I’d put in 1,000 jobs a day,” says James.

One day, James met a service manager with a local transmission shop.  He explained that despite his current homeless status, he had prior experience working on manual and automatic transmissions in the military.  By owning his valuable skills and taking the risk to outreach, James found an employer willing to work with him.  The only thing he had left to do was to get the tools. That need and a recommendation led James to Workforce Solutions.

As a part of the WIA program with Workforce Solutions, James was able to acquire the necessary tools to perform the job duties as a transmission mechanic.  He also worked with representatives from the Texas Veterans Commission stationed within the local Workforce Solutions Career Center.

James says, “People really are appreciative of our defense of their freedom. If [a veteran] wants better, they can find better with Workforce.”

James is now fully employed and saving up to put a deposit down on an apartment. With a little help, this veteran finally has his life back on track.

 

About the WIA Program

The Workforce Investment Act (WIA) program is a no-cost employment program designed to give job seekers the support and/or skills training they need to find a job. Specifically, WIA can provide:

  • Job search assistance
  • Child care assistance while in training
  • Transportation assistance
  • Interview clothing and uniforms
  • Tools needed for your new job
  • Funding for basic skills and occupational training

 

For more information about the program and eligibility, please visit www.wfscapitalarea.com.

 

Flying Forward with the Top Down

25 Jun

Jonathan Ball - PhotoAfter leaving the military in the 80’s, Jonathan Ball worked as a trainer and manager in the civilian workforce for nearly 25 years. Unfortunately, in August 2010, his career took a sharp turn and Jonathan was laid off.  He was left to redefine his career path.

With thoughtful evaluation of his skills and the local labor market, Jonathan determined he needed a career with more stability but he lacked a certification or license in a high demand field.

“I didn’t want to be laid off again,” says Jonathan. “I wondered ‘What can I do where I will have a job?’ Healthcare.”

As an honorably discharged veteran, Jonathan knew he possibly qualified for educational benefits but was unsure what and how. Being a man of action, however, he did not waste any time. Just weeks after his layoff, Jonathan learned how he could utilize the Hazelwood Act to earn a healthcare related degree and began taking courses at Austin Community College.

Upon completion of his prerequisite courses for an Associate’s Degree in Nursing, Jonathan enrolled in the WIA program through Workforce Solutions Capital Area and began working with his career counselor Barbara Emokpaire. As the Hazelwood Act was covering his tuition, WIA helped cover the supplemental costs of going to school, including books, scrubs, and gas.

“I would encourage anyone looking to go to school to explore all of their options,” says Jonathan. “With Hazelwood and WIA, I essentially had a free education.”

Able to focus on his coursework rather than how it would all be paid for, Jonathan graduated in December 2012 and shortly after began working for a leading local hospital system. In June 2013, he completed his internship period and received a pay raise and title promotion to staff nurse.

“I’m not where I was before the layoff,” says Jonathan, “but I’m stable and I’m getting there.”

Jonathan would like to give back and is willing to assist people looking for advice regarding success in the ACC nursing program. If you would like to speak with him, please submit request at www.wfscapitalarea.com/ContactUs.

About the WIA Program

The Workforce Investment Act (WIA) program is a no-cost employment program designed to give job seekers the support and/or skills training they need to find a job. Specifically, WIA can provide:About the WIA Program

  • Job search assistance
  • Child care assistance while in training
  • Transportation assistance
  • Interview clothing and uniforms
  • Tools needed for your new job
  • Funding for basic skills and occupational training

For more information about the program and eligibility, please visit www.wfscapitalarea.com.