Junior Enlisted Program: Kelsey’s Story

Junior Enlisted Program: Kelsey’s Story

Kelsey Wolf-Wallace
Latest posts by Kelsey Wolf-Wallace (see all)
Kelsey Wolf-Wallace and her husband, Nathan.

As someone who is married to a Junior Enlisted veteran, his story is closely intertwined with mine. When my husband Nathan had trouble finding employment after he left the military, we shared feelings of anxiety as well as the desire for mutual success. In this blog, I’ll share Nathan’s story from my perspective.

In May 2014, Nathan enlisted as an E-4 in the United States Army at 24 years old after several years of community college and work experience. He was hoping for a fresh start – a purpose. His MOS was a 94M, a Radar Repairer. When we met several months later, in August 2014, Nathan was finishing his initial training and was stoked to start his career in electrical maintenance. 

Upon completing his specialty school, he was assigned to his first duty station, Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington. When Nathan arrived, there were no radars to repair and he quickly learned, “the mission comes first.” He was put to work managing equipment in a shop, performing job duties that were much different than the ones he trained for. Additionally, he was a single soldier alone in a new place while I was completing college and graduate school on the east coast. 

Over the years, Nathan had trouble figuring out what his career was going to be. He learned technical skills but couldn’t apply them. He struggled with bouts of depression and wasn’t taking care of himself. He was conflicted, and I watched as he started to lose his identity. 

When it was finally time for him to separate from the Army, I helped him enhance his resume, and he applied for a job at Lowe’s Home Improvement. Nathan started as a seasonal employee while he applied to work as an Inventory Specialist at some larger companies in our area. I recommended he sign up for Hire Heroes USA services to get some career coaching support. He was paired with an excellent Transition Specialist who assisted with his job search strategy and resume tailoring.

After about three months of applying, Nathan finally landed an interview for an Inventory Specialist position. The interview went well, but afterward, the employer said they wanted someone who already knew the logistics information systems that the company used. Nathan had experience using the Army’s Global Combat Support System, a similar logistics information management system. He could have quickly learned the company’s system, but they moved forward with another candidate.

Instead, he decided to utilize his Post 9/11 GI Bill to pursue a degree in engineering. Nathan is currently enrolled in school and works full-time at Lowe’s Home Improvement. He has been lucky enough to have management who works with his school schedule. While attacking life as a non-traditional student, he is adjusting to virtual learning and still figuring out how to be a civilian again.

Nathan’s story is common, and I know there are spouses and partners of Junior Enlisted veterans and transitioning service members out there just like me who want to support their loved ones.

Junior Enlisted veterans have unique barriers to employment compared to more senior military members and veterans. They earn lower salaries, face greater underemployment issues, have less formal education and 50% leave their first civilian job within the first year. Hire Heroes USA wants to address those barriers and develop specific solutions for our Junior Enlisted clients. We are excited to improve the support of these skilled and experienced leaders and connect them to meaningful civilian opportunities!

Kelsey Wolf-Wallace is the Program Manager for Hire Heroes USA’s Junior Enlisted Program. If you’re interested in receiving free career support with Hire Heroes USA, click here to learn more.

Hire Heroes USA Proud to Sponsor 14th Annual Bike the Bay in San Diego

Hire Heroes USA to Sponsor 14th Annual Bike the Bay in San Diego

Hire Heroes USA is excited to be the Presenting Sponsor at the 14th Annual Bike the Bay  in San Diego, Calif. on Sunday, Aug. 22.

The ride is noncompetitive and takes place on a mostly-flat, 25-mile route around the San Diego Bay.  All registrants are invited to stop by our booth, which will be located directly behind the registration tent at Embarcadero Marina Park South. Be sure to say hello to the Hire Heroes team! 

Registration costs $65 to participate, and all proceeds benefit the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition. Veterans and active duty service members can enjoy a 20% discount to participate in the event. Use the code SERVICE21 to sign up.


Volunteer Spotlight: Elana

Volunteer Spotlight: Elana

When exploring new careers, transitioning service members, veterans and military spouses sometimes find themselves limited to certain industries or roles due to assumptions about the military community. It’s why Hire Heroes USA Volunteer Elana Najera, who comes from a family of veterans, makes a point to throw out any preconceived notions. She sees each mentorship conversation as an opportunity to listen, learn and collaborate.

“I approach each client with an open mind,” she said. “The best solutions come from engaging together in conversation to craft next steps and alternate solutions as we talk through their goals and desires. We build a path with prioritized tasks together.”

Elana has more than 15 years of experience in the technology industry and has seen firsthand the top-tier skills and unique talents veterans bring to the workforce.

Hire Heroes USA Volunteer Elana Najera

I would encourage anyone who interacts with veterans and military spouses in their lives to listen to them. There is so much to gain from their experiences and specific problem-solving skills,” Elana said.

For jobseekers, Elana believes the most important piece of advice she can offer is for clients to learn how to advocate for themselves in the civilian job market. “Know and believe in your worth. By serving in our military, you have experienced and participated in problem-solving at scale. Any work experience at scale is extremely valuable.” 

With more than 53 volunteer hours completed with Hire Heroes USA, Elana has empowered many veterans and military spouses to achieve their career goals, but the benefits she receives from these conversations are just as powerful.

“I get to meet and interact with individuals that have served our country, and I cannot express how rewarding it is for me to be touched by them,” she said. “Every single client I speak with provides me with a sense of joy for their accomplishments and excitement for their road ahead.”

If you would like to make a difference in the lives of veterans and military spouses, please click here to learn more about volunteering with Hire Heroes USA.

Top Jobs & Training Programs for August 2021

Top Jobs & Training Programs for August 2021

Every month, Hire Heroes USA selects several job openings from our job board to highlight. These job openings are posted by partnered employers who are looking to hire veteran and military spouse talent.

View jobs from our featured employer this month, Tailored Brands. Also, be sure to check out several of our training partners by downloading the document below.

Click here to download the newsletter.