David Harrison served as a rifleman during his time in the Marine Corps. When he left the service about 40 years ago, he pursued his true passion of life on the road as a truck driver.
Yet despite having decades of experience, he had trouble finding employment after being laid off from his trucking job in December due to a lack of work coming in for the construction company that had employed him.
Two months passed and the lack of a paycheck left him unable to afford rent, so he checked into a motel room with only enough money to pay for a few days.
Literally within hours of becoming homeless, he reached out to Volunteers of America’s Veterans Employment Network, a community-based organization funded by a grant from the Labor Department.
When Program Director Angela Eberle listened to David describe his situation, she knew he needed immediate help and arranged for him to receive a bed at their homeless veteran transitional facility, the Massachusetts Bay Veteran Center, in Somerville, Mass. A case worker picked David up from his motel and drove him to the center, where there was a room and bed ready for him.
With stable − if temporary – housing taken care of, the team began to help David with his employment search. They helped him prepare his resume, look for jobs, complete job applications and compile associated paperwork. They also coached him with practice interviews. And because he didn’t have reliable transportation, they drove him to and from job interviews, and to get a required drug screening for one of the trucking companies.
The team that helped David, from left: Howard Bennett, case worker for the Massachusetts Bay Veterans Center; Angela Eberle, program director, Volunteers of America’s Veterans Employment Network; Anthony Joseph, program director of the Massachusetts Bay Veterans Center; and Orson Buckmire, case manager for the Homeless Veterans’ Reintegration Program, May 16, 2016.
After just one week of applying for jobs, multiple companies contacted David for interviews. And after only his first interview, an Illinois-based company offered David a position as a full-time semi-truck driver – his ideal job.
David is now making long drives all around the country and couldn’t be happier. He also is finally gaining financial stability and is thrilled to be back doing what he loves best, driving.
“Without Volunteers of America helping me to fill out the paperwork, I don’t know where I would have turned to get a job,” David said. “I was hours away from sleeping on a park bench and they got me a room and food. Howard, Angie, Anthony and Orson went above and beyond to help me find a job. They worked hand in glove and saved this Marine’s life. I’m forever grateful – forever grateful!”
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.
James Lally is a public affairs specialist for the department in Boston.