Finding Her Calling to Help Fellow Soldiers

In 2008, Katherine K. enlisted in the military.

She knew right away she had found her calling.

Katherine enlisted for eight years, six active and two reserve. As a Specialist in the Army National Guard, she’s had to wear many different hats. From administration, to stocking warehouse supplies and licensing drivers for military vehicle use, Katherine held many different responsibilities during her active service.

IMG_0961In 2013, during her reserve years, Katherine was looking for a civilian job. She didn’t know what kind or what industry. What she did know is that she did not want to lose touch with her military family.

Katherine was hired at shopgoodwill.com, Goodwill of Orange County’s e-commerce retail operation, that year. Here Katherine worked as a site administrator, overseeing customer service for the entire website. She was given flexible working hours during times of National Guard training and felt greatly supported. It was during her work at shopgoodwill.com that she realized Goodwill did so much more than sell used clothing.

That’s when she found Goodwill of Orange County’s Enduring Independence program, a pioneering program for veterans, which seeks to help veterans find and keep meaningful employment. For Katherine, this was the ideal place and way to serve her fellow comrades.

With her background and service history, it wasn’t long and certainly not surprising that the Goodwill Enduring Independence team wanted Katherine to join them. As of April 2015, she has been hired as a Veteran Employment Specialist within the Enduring Independence program.

Here, Katherine has a single goal: assisting fellow soldiers and veterans find and keep jobs.

IMG_1251Katherine says, “I didn’t apply to this job for me, it’s for my fellow soldiers. If I can be that middle person to guide them to their goals, that’s enough for me.”

On the job Katherine gets to spend her time meeting with veterans, talking to them about their needs and helping them set their goals – where they want to be, and what needs to be done in order to reach their goals.

“It’s really rewarding,” she said. “It’s a good feeling helping them, I don’t even know how to describe it. It’s really rewarding helping veterans get their lives back on track.”

Enduring Independence addresses the spectrum of veteran and their families’ needs when they transition to civilian life. Veterans connect with specialists like Katherine to prepare for employment. Katherine walks her clients through resume building exercises, helps them earn certifications they may need for the job they want, helps them brush up on their computer skills, and if they need it, gets them the appropriate clothing for job interviews.

Goodwill Enduring Independence team connects veterans with the many resources available to them in the civilian world; resources that often go unnoticed and are underused.

“I can relate to the struggles my fellow soldiers go through,” Katherine continued. “I can understand why veterans are afraid to go back to school or look for jobs. It’s hard. Now I can go back to my unit and advise those soldiers on getting their lives back on track. I can let them know of all the opportunities they do have in the civilian world.”

Through her employment at Goodwill of Orange County, Katherine has fulfilled her own goal of staying rooted to her military family during her service.

But to her, what’s most important — she is able to help fellow soldiers achieve their goals.

IMG_4342

Katherine with fellow Goodwill employees who specialize in helping veterans find and keep meaningful employment through the Enduring Independence program.

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