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Finding the Light in Darkness

When U.S. Army Reserve Veteran Oswaldo lost his job, he found much needed support from United Way's VetsBuild program to help get him back on his feet. Here is his story in his own words: 

"I served in the U.S. Army Reserve from 1990-98. Recently, I had a steady job that I had held for many years working in the healthcare field. Unfortunately, I was laid off when the contract with my company was not renewed. New York state now requires a certification that was not mandatory when I began in the position. It’s hard to compete with todays workforce that have college degrees and advanced certifications. I didn’t have any of those things. I had been employed for so long, that I got comfortable, Because I didn’t have this certification, I was passed up for advancement opportunities and it eventually ended up costing me my job.

I was out of work with no way to support my family – my wife and two children. My daughter is 17 years old and suffers from severe depression. She’s graduating from high school this year, and wants to go to college. We do everything we can to keep her healthy and safe, but my loss of income was making life stressful for everyone in my house.

I found out about VetsBuild through Hempstead Works at the local labor department. I completed the program, and decided to take it one step further by enrolling in the advanced GasPro training. I had to expand my horizons on the type of opportunities available to me if I could not re-enter the medical field. I did not want to give up on the job I truly wanted.

Beyond the training, certification and career connections, VetsBuild offered my hope – a light at the end of the tunnel. Being part of VetsBuild allowed me to be surrounded by people who were like me. Everyone is fighting a battle, or trying to help someone else that needs them. I fight every day for my family, for my daughter. I now see the light at the end of the dark tunnel I’ve been living in for months. I stay active, every day I find ways to keep myself relevant and attractive to employers. I now have connections and access to resources that I wasn’t even aware existed. I wish I would have joined earlier.

Following my time in VetsBuild, I found a class to help me study and earn the certification needed to get a job as a central sterile processing technician. I was fortunate to have been the recipient of a grant from the Sal LaFonte Fund that covered the cost of this class, as money was tight. I completed the class, took the certification test and am proud to say that I passed.

Since passing the certification test, I am now a proud member of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, employed with Northwell Health.  I am grateful to VetsBuild and United Way for helping me, and other veterans, get back on our feet."