Vet ‘Lives Out Dream’ Serving Others in New Career


Working for You

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It might sound strange, but Edwin Sostre will tell you that losing his job led him to his professional passion and purpose. In January 2008, the former Air Force sergeant and newly single father of two boys moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, after accepting a position as a technician for Comcast Cable. Four years later, a reduction in force at the company left him unemployed and feeling hopeless.

After nine years of military service that included tours in Grenada, Panama and Operation Desert Storm, Edwin found himself in unfamiliar territory – unable to pay rent and in danger of losing their home. Having sole responsibility for his children added more stress to the situation.

Edwin“As a combat vet used to leading people, and responsible for millions of dollars of equipment, finding myself [about to be] homeless was devastating,” said the Puerto Rico native. “It was the lowest point in my life. I was lost.”

His financial turnaround began with the encouragement of his fiancée, Louise, as well as his willingness to give back to other veterans in the midst of his own hardship. Louise, a veteran herself, was very active in the veteran community and convinced him to volunteer at a local stand down where supplies and services were provided to homeless veterans, including food, shelter, clothing and health screenings.

During the stand down, he met Karen Payne, a case manager at the Veterans Leadership Program of Western Pennsylvania, an organization that receives funding from the Labor Department’s Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program. Payne helped Edwin connect with housing assistance and other support.

With a roof over their heads, Edwin was able to focus on finding a new vocation to support his family. Taking advantage of his veterans benefits, he enrolled in the Community College of Allegheny County and earned an associate degree in liberal arts and science.

Next, he set his sights on a bachelor’s degree in computer science. However, before signing up for classes, he learned about an exciting opportunity.

Always eager to serve his military brothers and sisters, Edwin jumped at the chance to apply for a career adviser position with the veterans program that changed his life. The job was an opportunity for him to “live his dream,” so when it was offered to him, he took it.

Now that he has been working for the program for the past six months, Edwin offers the following advice to veterans who find themselves on hard times like he did, “The program works. If you follow the steps they lay out for you, it will get you back on track. VLP leaves no veteran behind.”

Edwin still plans to complete his degree, and his happy ending extends beyond his career − he and Louise will be married in May.

Editor’s note: Learn more about services available to veterans.

The “DOL Working for You” series highlights the Labor Department’s programs in action. View other blog posts in the series here.

Leni Uddyback-Fortson is the regional director of public affairs for the department in Philadelphia.

Veterano Hace Realidad Su Sueño de Servir al Prójimo

Puede sonarle extraño pero si le pregunta, Edwin Sostre le dirá que haber perdido su trabajo le llevó a descubrir su pasión y propósito profesional. Este ex sargento de la Fuerza Aérea y padre reciente de dos niños se mudó a Pittsburgh, Pensilvania, en enero del 2008 después de aceptar una posición como técnico en Comcast Cable. Pero cuatro años después, una reducción de personal en esa empresa lo dejó desempleado y sin esperanzas.

Tras nueve años de servicio militar, incluidas misiones en Grenada, Panamá y en la Operación Tormenta del Desierto, Edwin entraba en territorio desconocido. Acabó sin poder pagar su alquiler y en peligro de quedarse sin hogar. La situación se le complicó aún más porque tenía la responsabilidad directa del cuidado de sus hijos.

“Como veterano de guerra acostumbrado a liderar personas y ser responsable de equipos valorados en millones de dólares, fue devastador verme apenas a un paso de quedarme sin hogar”, dijo el puertorriqueño. “Fue el momento más duro de mi vida. Estaba perdido”.

Si situación económica empezó a dar un giro gracias a los ánimos de su prometida Louise, también veterana, y por su disposición de ayudar a otros veteranos en situaciones parecidas. Louise era muy activa dentro de la comunidad de veteranos y convenció a Edwin que hiciera voluntariado en un centro donde se proporcionaban bienes y servicios a veteranos sin hogar como alimentos, vivienda, ropa y exámenes médicos.

Durante esos días Edwin conoció a Karen Payne, una consejera de la organización Veterans Leadership Program of Western Pennsylvania, financiada en parte por el Departamento de Trabajo a través del Programa de Reintegración de Veteranos Sin Hogar. Payne le ayudó para que recibiera asistencia a la vivienda y otras ayudas.

EdwinAhora ya con un techo sobre su cabeza, Edwin pudo ponerse a la tarea de buscar cómo poder mantener a su familia. Haciendo uso de sus beneficios como veterano, Edwin se inscribió en el Colegio Comunitario del Condado de Allegheny, y allí obtuvo una graduación en Ciencias y Humanidades. Luego se propuso obtener una licenciatura en Informática pero en ese momento se enteró de una maravillosa oportunidad.

Como siempre estaba dispuesto a servir a sus compañeros exmilitares, Edwin no dejó pasar el chance de postularse para una vacante disponible como asesor vocacional dentro precisamente del programa de veteranos que le cambió su vida. Este trabajo representaba la oportunidad de realizar su sueño de servir al prójimo. Y tan pronto se la ofrecieron, aceptó la posición.

Ahora que ya ha estado trabajando para el programa estos últimos seis meses, Edwin ofrece el siguiente consejo a los veteranos que se encuentran atravesando momentos tan duros como los que él pasó: este programa funciona. Si sigues los pasos que te indican lograrás reencauzar tu vida. Este programa no abandona a ningún veterano”.

Edwin aún prevé completar su bachiller y ahora, su felicidad va más allá de haber descubierto su propósito vocacional: Louise y Edwin se casaron en mayo.

Nota del editor: Sepa más sobre los servicios disponibles para veteranos.

La serie “DOL trabajando para usted” pone de relieve programas del Departamento de Trabajo en acción. Ver otras historias de la serie aquí.

Leni Uddyback-Fortson es directora regional de información pública del departamento de trabajo en Filadelfia.

 


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Comments

I would love to serve to our veterans I owe it to all of them whom has served and whom are serving today for our country and up holding our freedom and liberty still today and for what they all have seen and had to go threw to fight for it all and for their country that they all love and are so proud to fight for their country and I tryed serving for our country at 17 and 18 years old but couldnt pass the writen test scores tests barely and i was wanting to serve my country so bad but got held behind and couldnt pass a dang test scores barely so I will feel so proud to get to serve for my veterans I owe them alot of thanks for what they all have done so great of a jobs serving our country

Where I live i see so many veterans on the streets of denver that really could use help. Most of them no doubt suffer ptsd and have many needs and meds they need to help them live a somewhat normal life.. Trying to give them proper healthcare here has been a challenge as the VA is old and worn down and not a decent place for a veteran of our country. We're working on the new VA in a new and improved and growing location. But progress keeps being thwarted.Still waiting on this new hospital for the proper funds to get it going. I certainly wish our government would get back on track for this development. Perhaps enlist ppl of a civilian nature to help with fundraising and spreading the word. Somtimes i wonder if our government knows that ppl are willing to volunteer and even work for wages yo help with such causes. All they need to do is ask for the help of its people. The people who appreciate the work they do for us ,by doing their best to provide us with the programs and help we need when needed.

As I was reading this information, I kept thinking it was going to end up that Edwin took advantage of the opportunities in the trucking industry. I would encourage Veterans, transitioning men and women, spouses, and family members to look to the trucking industry for their next great career.

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