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Workshops for Warriors success stories: Brandon, class of 2016

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May 23, 2016 - Brandon joined the military at 28 years old because he felt it was his calling. He already had a wife and children to support, and although he was working two good paying jobs at the time, he knew it wasn’t what he wanted to do. He wanted the opportunity to go to school, provide for his family, and create a better life. That’s when he knew in his heart the military was the answer.

“I was working two jobs, FedEx Express at night and Consolidated Eco-Global Logistics during the day, so they were basically two dead-end jobs. That’s when God told me: The military. Do that. They provide you food, clothing, housing, school, the GI Bill […] so I enlisted when we were in Texas.” He added, “I went off to boot camp while my wife and two children were in Texas so I had to spend 4 or 5 months away from them. It was hard, but of course I had to get through the rough patch to get to the good patch. So that’s when and how I decided to go in.”

Brandon explained that his time in the military was amazing but difficult at the same time. His first duty station was in Washington, and he joined the Navy as an E4 because he did ROTC in high school, so he had a leg up right from the start. He served five years in the military.

“I’ve been to Iraq, China, Australia. It was a pretty amazing first five years in the military I’m realizing as I tell this story, [but] it wasn’t always easy.”

Brandon’s daughter developed chronic bronchitis about three years into his military career before his first deployment. This led them to move back to their home state of California until Brandon finished up his tour in Washington. At that time, he didn’t know if his service was going to be extended.

“When I did extend they said said I had to spend just two years away from my family going back and forth, so that was difficult. Plus I had deployments, so that was one of the major reasons that now that I’m on shore duty I decided to get out.” He added, “It was an easy decision to leave. Nothing bad about the military, but because I spent so much time away from my family, missing birthdays and anniversaries and things like that, that time away was hard as you can imagine.”

Brandon credits his wife’s support and strength in helping him make a successful transition out of the military. She was able to earn her RN Degree while he was away, so when he returned they already had a solid foundation in place. His wife also felt passionate about fostering a child, and now they are now currently foster parents to their second child.

With a 9 and a 5 year old of his own, life was full after Brandon left the military. He explained that Workshops for Warriors will be crucial in helping him support this growing family.

“The job market I’ve heard is just wide open; they need workers. I thought ‘yeah I can definitely do this.’ My family is safe and secure and growing, so now was the perfect time and everything meshed well together. [Attending Workshops] wasn’t a difficult decision for me at all.”

A friend who works on Camp Pendleton in the galley told Brandon about the program because he knew Brandon was creative and liked to work with his hands. After looking around at other schools in the area and deciding that Workshops for Warriors was the best fit, he signed up and now hopes to take all of the classes available if time permits.

“There is a comfort of knowing you have the support of somewhere like Workshops. For us it just makes that community much easier to come into class. We all kind of come from the same world. It makes it an easy transition.”

Brandon plans to use his welding skills on the side for himself and for a couple inventions he has up his sleeve, but he says that he’s an artist, so what he’s really interested in is the Mastercam and SolidWorks programs that he will start during our summer semester.

Brandon received the following nationally recognized credential:

Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW)

For more on Workshops for Warriors success stories, go to workshopsforwarriors.org/success-stories.

Photo/Article courtesy of Workshops for Warriors

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