Veteran David Wells knows firsthand that age is just a number when it comes to finding a job you are truly passionate about. When David retired from the United States Air Force in 2011, he was faced with the obstacle that so many other veterans struggle with: reentering the workforce as a civilian. With guidance and support provided by MERS Goodwill and the Veterans Administration in Mt. Vernon, Missouri, David is proudly working full time as a Veterans Service Officer with the Missouri Veterans Commission.
“I served 24 years in active duty in the Air Force as a First Sergeant and Training Manager where I mentored people through challenges, even death,” said David. “The job I’m performing now is my calling! It’s incredible to see my goals not only met, but exceeded.”
David moved to Joplin, Missouri from South Dakota in 2011 in the aftermath of the devastating tornado to be near his wife’s family. He had recently received his Bachelor’s Degree in Organizational Management through the military and was eager to pursue his dream of helping fellow veterans and their families. David being new to the area, combined with his age, however, presented obstacles to gaining full-time employment.
“When you’re 49 years old and looking for a job, employers can always hire a 26-year-old for the same position,” said David. “I applied for more than 40 jobs and couldn’t get anywhere. I knew if I could get just one interview, the employer would see I’m a great asset.”
David turned to the Veterans Administration for guidance. There, he was able to further his education and received a Master’s Degree in Organizational Management with an emphasis on Human Resources. With a newfound sense of confidence, David was ready to take on the job search again and was referred to MERS Goodwill’s Employment Placement Services. He connected with Barb Morris, a placement counselor in Springfield, and the two immediately clicked.
“David is one of the most highly qualified, ambitious people I’ve had the pleasure of working with in my 35 years of providing employment assistance,” said Barb. “He listens and makes action plans to stay focused and targeted on his passion: helping people.”
Barb worked one-on-one with David to create a master application, including verification of work history and references, as well as a new resume, multiple cover letters and thank you notes. She provided job leads and continuous encouragement to stay focused during the 5-month-long job search process while David was substitute teaching 3-4 days per week.
When a job opened with the Missouri Veterans Commission in February 2015, it presented the perfect opportunity for David to utilize his assets and character traits. David applied for the position of Veterans Service Officer in the Department of Public Safety in March, interviewed with the employer in April and secured the job in May. He has been advocating for veterans in his position ever since.
“By consolidating and re-wording my resume with a strong focus in management and supervision, I was able to narrow down my job search to a single target with tangible results,” shared David.“My ultimate satisfaction is to see the work I do being performed at a higher level. Someone told me they were envious of me because I love my job; I don’t have to go to work – I get to go to work.”