Over his 25-year military career, 45 year-old Bryan Chaney served in logistics, recruiting, and combat training. He held six different occupational specialties and oversaw the command of various recruiting posts. Despite his lengthy tenure and various leadership positions within the Army, Bryan could not help but wonder: “How does my skill set transfer to the civilian sector?”
But Bryan wasn’t alone in his apprehension, and thanks to Paralyzed Veterans’ Operation PAVE program, he’s not alone in finding the answer to this crucial question.
PAVING ACCESS FOR VETERANS EMPLOYMENT.
While many active-duty soldiers and veterans may feel apprehensive about the transition to the civilian workforce, Paralyzed Veterans of America’s vocational rehabilitation counselors devote themselves to facilitating this strenuous shift.
“Seamless transitions are made possible by people like Cristina,” Bryan says.
Cristina Mousel is Bryan’s PAVE counselor, located in the Richmond PAVE office. After an internship with the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA), Bryan got in touch with Cristina, who set him on the path to employment with the organization. After serving in the U.S. Army from 1986 until his medical retirement in 2011, Bryan was moving to the civilian workforce.
ON THE PATH TO A NEW CAREER.
Despite a Veterans Affairs’ determination that rated his disability as 80-percent service-connected, Bryan struggled to obtain a Schedule A authority from the Army. The document would categorize Bryan as a noncompetitive jobseeker, a sure path to employment at NAVSEA.
Cristina took on the task of determining that despite his disability, Bryan would not only be able to work, but would succeed.
My goal is to become a professor. Those who teach, learn.
"LIKE A JUNEBUG ON A TWINKIE".
Beginning in October 2011, Cristina remained in steady contact with Bryan to make this determination, communicating three to four times a week (he calls her determined, “like a junebug on a Twinkie”). Cristina says Bryan facilitated the process through his openness and honesty.
“I really listen and try and make sure that they’re meeting their career goals,” Cristina says. “My goal is not to get someone any job, but to get them a job that works for them and their employer.”
In December 2011, after less than three months of contact with Cristina, Bryan was hired by NAVSEA.
But before sending him on his way, Cristina wanted Bryan to explore other options. She helped him craft a federal résumé, informed him of other job openings and encouraged him to attend job fairs.
COMMITTED PARTNERS FOR LIFE
Bryan’s journey with Paralyzed Veterans continues to this day because of the “Partner for Life” model followed by the Veterans Benefits Department, which includes the PAVE Program.
After speaking with Sherman Gillums, Paralyzed Veterans’ executive director, Service Officer James Fischl contacted Bryan to help him navigate the VA’s thorny claims process. “James has been arbitrating for me,” says Bryan, who is appealing a dependency determination.
But his journey isn’t over yet. Having already obtained a master’s degree in marketing, Bryan is pursuing a doctorate in the same field.
“My goal is to become a professor,” he says. “Those who teach, learn.”
And when Bryan completes his doctorate and looks to transition into academia he knows that Paralyzed Veterans of America will be there to assist, ready to PAVE the way.