NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — The transition out of the military and into civilian work can be tough for any service member, at any time. The impacts of the pandemic only make that transition more challenging, which is why a national nonprofit wants to help.
After more than 20 years in the military, John Delacruz is retiring, which is a change that isn’t necessarily an easy one.
“I don’t think I ever wrote a resume in my life,” Delacruz said.
He serves in the Air Force, working on maintenance and logistics to make missions happen. His new mission is to find a job in the civilian world.
“The amount of what I didn’t know was huge,” Delacruz said. “The work needed to actually start getting prepared is quite stressful.”
About six months ago, Delacruz got hurt while serving overseas. On his way back to the states, he met a representative from the Wounded Warrior Project. When he decided to retire from the military, an email from the nonprofit happened across his inbox, offering help with career changes.
“That really was my springboard to where, to my transition journey now, so I’m really thankful for the opportunity to have met the Wounded Warrior Project,” Delacruz said.
He met with a career counselor through “Warriors to Work.” Last year, the program helped more than 1,800 veterans and their family members find jobs that are suited to them.
“Everybody has a different background and they’re all looking for something different,” said Kevin Rasch, the regional manager of Warriors to Work. “So what we’re looking to do is help them match those, what their wants and needs are and their experience and what’s going to be best for them.”
Rasch is a Navy veteran who spent some time in the Hampton Roads area. He believes the nonprofit’s experience with veterans helps more people find long-term careers.
“We work with employers to help them understand the benefits of hiring a veteran and all the intangibles they bring to the table and how we translate their skills from military to civilian,” Rasch said.
That translation is proving to be a huge help for Delacruz as he works to find his next mission.
“They’ve helped me out tremendously.”
He encourages anyone in a similar situation to start early and reach out for help.
You can learn more about Wounded Warrior Project and Warriors to Work by clicking here.