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168 Days: Time For Change

By Ken Snyder

As my fourth deployment to Al Udeid wound down I had the feeling that things were going to be changing again. On the USERRA/DOL front I did get another chance to tell my story to some high-ranking Reserve and Guard leaders while deployed -- the more exposure I can get for this cause, the better. Of course, all the Air National Guard members in my shop got briefed as well. I spent some time to calculate up a reasonable representation of my losses to date, and wrote the code that displays it at the top of every page.

One thing that added some optimism on the employment front was finding an agency that specializes in finding employment for veterans and service members. While the interview I did over the phone (with a particular employer) wasn't successful the information I received from this employment agency was very promising. Information was exchanged via e-mail and through phone calls, and I was able to submit an application -- with their help I was able to get set up for a couple of interviews as soon as I returned. This made my return to Kansas City something I was looking forward to even more!

After spending four months serving in combat support for Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Combined Joint Task Force it was time for me to out-process Al Udeid and return home. After a rather memorable flight from England to Topeka (via Milwaukee) I was home and ready for my life to change once again. Once I was settled back in the process of job hunting really took off.

Some efforts were not as fruitful as others. I applied for a job with a railroad as an electrician on diesel locomotives. The process involved an extensive testing procedure, which I completed with flying colors. However, when I went in for a face-to-face interview I immediately knew this was not going to end well. As soon as I mentioned my ongoing military obligations the IBEW representative started to ask detailed questions that they knew my aircraft electronics background would not have exposed me to. Remember, IBEW was the union that was supposed to represent me at BPU (if I made it through the probationary period) -- and you remember how that turned out. In less than a week's time the answer came back: the railroad was no longer considering my application.

Another interview was with a company that maintained material handling equipment for a large warehouse. The interview went well, but in the back of my mind I was looking forward to an interview that had started as an application while I was still overseas. The information provided by the employment agency pointed to a very promising opportunity, one that would be perfect with someone that has decades of experience in the aerospace industry, and an employer that was one of the most military-friendly employers in the country.

Unlike the railroad interview, this time the more we talked and the more they revealed about the position, the more promising it became. In a matter of days I received a phone call from one of the managers I interviewed with -- he wanted to add me to his staff. There were security clearance forms to complete, this was made easier by the fact that my ANG position requires a security clearance. On 9 October 2017 the over-seven-year nightmare of "underemployment" for me came to an end -- I am now employed by a contractor for the Department of Energy. While we may never recover the amount lost from BPU's lies and cowardice we can now make plans to move forward from a point financially that we might have been at (had the acts of 7 July 2010 not taken place). Change is definitely underway.

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