Goodwill Easterseals employs veterans with disabilities

Meet John.IMG_1773

John is a veteran. He enlisted in the Marines after two years of college, deploying twice to Iraq after the initial surge following 9/11. Being an infantryman taught him a lot about what it means to work hard, put in long hours, and put others before yourself. “I’m used to working 24/7,” he said. Those powerful lessons learned during his younger years are now serving him at age 34; in 2015, he has a different story to tell.

John was stationed in California during his fourth year of service, and went on a hike one day with some fellow Marine buddies. His friends turned around, and all 6’4” of John was nowhere to be seen. He had fallen 25 feet and hit his head on a boulder.

IMG_176910 years after his accident, John was finally recovered enough to look for employment. He had to learn to walk, talk, feed himself, read, and write again. His accident left him with a brain injury, and after having served our country as a Marine, his job prospects were now severely limited.

Over the course of two years, he tried out different jobs, but his employers were not patient with his disability. His hours became limited, and John became frustrated.

John was referred to Goodwill Easterseals by Brent Jeansonne at the  Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services. “We attempted a job at a local supply company,” said Linda Perkins, Program Manager for GES. “They were not willing to work with John. Because of some of the symptoms of his disability, which is no fault of his, they thought that the public would not be accepting of that, so they let him go.”

But Linda thought John would make a perfect fit as an employee right here at Goodwill Easterseals. “Look, we’re talking about a veteran,” she said. “He told me, ‘I’m used to working, I want to work again. I want to feel like I’m contributing to society. It’s not about the money, it’s about me doing something.’”IMG_7305 edit

“We looked for four years to find a job that would work for John,” said his mother, Caroline. “He tried to work for four years, and he was very frustrated. He spoke to Brent from ADRS, whom he met at a Brain Injury Support Group meeting. Brent stayed on it, and within a week, had put us in touch with Mrs. Perkins. If it were not for her, he would not have a job. She went over and above to help him. It has just been the greatest thing for all of us. He is so happy. He feels like he has accomplished things, he sees people that he knows, he’s made friends, and he’s a role model for some of these other guys because he works so hard. It has just been the answer to our prayers. The last step in his recovery was finding a job and a purpose for John. Every week, he gets a little better. It’s so good for him, and it gives me such peace of mind.”

IMG_7304 editWhen asked what John likes most about his job, he stated simply, “I just like working.”

“I just think it’s unique that he gave so much to our country, and here he is years later, and he’s still giving,” said Azalea Road store manager, Sharon Foster. “We’ll keep him.”