Jane Kerntz is a Disabled Veterans’ Outreach Program representative based at CareerForce in Hibbing. She regularly works with current and former military members who are looking for work through the Veterans Employment Program. With his permission, Jane shared this story about one of the veterans she has helped.
In 2019, I began working with Aaron, a veteran who was recently released from prison. While he was in the Army National Guard, he deployed to Kuwait where he operated heavy equipment and drove huge trucks. Together, we determined that getting a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) would be his best bet for gainful, sustainable employment. Fortunately, I had partnered with Chris Wines of Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans (MACV) and Local Veterans' Employment Representative (LVER) Lee Okerstrom who has advanced knowledge and experience working with veterans who have been involved in the criminal justice system.
MACV provided tuition assistance for Aaron to attend the Advanced Minnesota Program at Hibbing Community College to prepare for his getting his CDL. With Lee’s help, we guided Aaron through a difficult job search which ebbed and flowed for over two years and during a pandemic. No matter the setback, Aaron did not give up. When he would get passed over for a job, he didn’t get mad or upset – he just kept applying for jobs and keep moving forward. Chris and I both said that Aaron was the most resilient job seeker that we had ever worked with.
Finally, Aaron landed a truck driver/equipment operator position at a recycling facility. His starting wage was $18.00 per hour. After working incredibly hard to prove himself, Aaron was bumped up to $20.00 per hour after three months on the job. Education and perseverance were the key factors to his success.
If you are a current or former member of the U.S. military, you are eligible for priority employment services through CareerForce. Find out more about about Veterans Employment Services. If you have a criminal record, you can get specialized assistance preparing for and finding employment. Find out more by reviewing employment resources for people with a criminal record.