After 11 years serving in the military with the U.S. Army and North Carolina Army National Guard, Mark had a long career as a surgical technician – a 19-year-long career, to be exact! He was looking for a change, and moved to Charlotte to be closer to family. When he arrived in North Carolina, he began driving for ride sharing services while searching for work in the security field. During this time, his car was not only providing his sole source of income, but also a roof over his head, as he was living in his vehicle. Then – the unexpected happened, and he was involved in a crash. The car was totaled, and his right leg was broken in the accident.
“Now I was homeless, and I had no means of earning income because I could not stand,” Mark explained.
Mark went to the VA hospital for treatment. While there, he was referred to a program called Family Forum, which gives food and shelter to veterans in need. While recovering from his leg injury, he immediately began applying for jobs online and inquiring about employment opportunities for veterans. One day, while exchanging text messages with the coordinator at Family Forum about job leads, she shared the name Richard Bartell, and a phone number for the Operation: GoodJobs program at Goodwill, which provides job training and employment services to veterans, military members, their spouses and dependents. Three weeks later, after exchanging a few emails about Operation: GoodJobs and its security training program, Mark came into the Goodwill Opportunity Campus on crutches.
“I received top-notch training in the practice of security from an Air Force veteran with 30 years of law enforcement experience, and several years of security experience,” Mark said. “He did more than just tell me what I needed to know to get the certificate. He prepared me to understand nuances and details that would help me be very effective at my job.”
After two days of course work, Mark attended a job fair and met with recruiters from three security agencies, and even TSA – and being the driven individual he is, Mark applied to work for every single one of them. He remembers how confident he felt walking into his interview with his current employer.
“The fact that I already had my certificate in hand from Goodwill made a huge impact on the hiring process,” he said.
While they do certify new applicants that they hire, Mark didn’t need the initial training, so he was able to continue to add to his credentials. After several days of classroom training, he was certified in Critical Facilities and Custom Protection/Upscale Security Officer & High-Rise Facility.
“When put together, it means that I have gone from unemployed, to being hired and qualified to be an armed officer at Bank of America facilities (my employer’s largest contract),” Mark said.
Mark wrote to us and said the following, and we feel it sums his experience up beautifully.
“It is a fact that violence has increased in today’s world. There are active shooters, appearing on the news almost weekly, and terror organizations like to hit symbolic targets. Those are facts that no one can dispute. I am now the tip of the spear. I am now the first line of defense for people who want to enter a workplace, and enjoy their coffee while they tap away at their computers. I am the first line of defense for people taking care of their bank or government business, or gathering for recreation. The psychological and emotional state of a man who is injured, unemployed and homeless is vastly different from the psychological and emotional state of a man who knows that people are relying on him for public safety, whether they even acknowledge him standing there or not. I‘m a very happy person right now. I appreciate the efforts of Mr. Bartell, Mrs. Cook, and everyone involved in the Operation: GoodJobs program to help veterans get back on our feet. As if the program didn’t help me enough, they also arranged to make an auto insurance payment for me so that my auto insurance wouldn’t get cancelled. I can make it to work and have peace of mind now that I’ve started getting paychecks. I’m still healing from my leg injury, but I’m working… so I’m already whole again.”