Junior Enlisted Program: James’ Story

Junior Enlisted Program: James’ Story

James Medina
Latest posts by James Medina (see all)

As a current Transition Specialist with Hire Heroes USA’s Junior Enlisted Program, I have the pleasure of working with clients every day who offer a range of unique talents and experiences gained from their time in the service. This career phase, between the ranks of E-1 and E-4,  is a challenging and interesting one. It’s a time that was instrumental in my own career development and helped foster my passion for serving this community. 

James and Brooke Medina at Fort Bragg, N.C. in May 2001.

I began my career in the U.S. Army in 1999. As a young Private First Class, it was my first time being on my own. I finally felt like an adult and, as a 19-year-old, this was a significant moment for me. I learned to manage my own money and oversaw millions of dollars of military equipment. As I look back on these years, I realize that I took on a lot of heavy responsibilities at a young age, and my early professional experience was different from many of my peers. 

During my time as a junior enlisted soldier, I constantly encountered new experiences in both my professional and personal life. I started as a stinger missile crew member in the 82nd Airborne Division in Fort Bragg, N.C. This role was responsible for identifying and shooting down enemy aircraft to protect civilians. I also met my future wife, which significantly altered my perspective as I began to see how my career, financial and life decisions would affect more than just myself. 

James and Brooke Medina in 2021.

I grew up without much in the way of money or access to well-connected people, so becoming a soldier meant not only doing work I loved, but also receiving a steady, reliable paycheck twice a month. As long as I was able to afford the essentials, anything beyond that was icing on the cake. 

As a junior enlisted service member, I was required to stay disciplined, both physically and financially. Although there were plenty of challenges and stressors, that period helped lay the groundwork for the man I would become. Within a few years, I married my wife and we were expecting our first child. I was only 23 years old at the time. In my professional and personal life, I learned about the importance of structure, commitment and frugality. I also learned that I could accomplish tasks and missions that I never thought possible.

Today, I’m a retired veteran, with more than 20 years of service in the Army. There are times when I miss those earlier days, even with all of their challenges. However, I have found that helping my fellow veterans, especially young service members, allows me to use the lessons I learned and share them with others. As a Transition Specialist who works with junior enlisted veterans, I hope to make their professional lives a little easier. 

James Medina is a Transition Specialist with 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.

Volunteer Spotlight: Paul

Volunteer Spotlight: Paul

Searching for a new career requires a great deal of patience, relationship building and learning. It’s a process that relies heavily on the guidance and expertise of others. With a worldwide pandemic that limited in-person events, changed the workplace landscape and reduced job openings, US Army veteran Paul Weyrauch witnessed the importance of collaborative mentorship in his own career search.

Photo of Hire Heroes USA Volunteer Paul Weyrauch
Hire Heroes USA Volunteer Paul Weyrauch

In 2020, during the height of the pandemic, Paul approached Hire Heroes USA as a client. He made a significant career transition, retiring from the military after more than two decades of service and accepting a position at Booz Allen Hamilton. Soon after, he became a volunteer with Hire Heroes USA, committed to offering others the mentorship he received during his own career transition.

When speaking with veterans and military spouses, Paul uses his own successes and challenges to provide guidance. “I try to focus on my direct experience of transitioning after 26 years of service into the world of information technology and cyber contracting for the government,” Paul explained.

While many of the clients come from different backgrounds and experiences, he finds they are always linked by their service to the country and the common goal of finding a rewarding next career. 

With each conversation, he encourages clients to take time to hone in on their passions through self-assessment, informational interviews and networking.

“Continue to work positively at finding a position that meets both your skill and passion and the right opportunity will present itself,” Paul said. “The number of unreturned calls and messages pales in comparison to the one that gets you where you want to be.”

For professionals wanting make a difference for the military community, he believes a simple introduction can be invaluable.

“Take time to share your experience and introduce veterans and spouses to someone they would have not otherwise met,” he said. “Expanding the horizon of possibilities, for me, came from talking with people around the industry that I could not have met on my own.”

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 September 2021

Top Jobs & Training Programs for September 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, Sanford Health. Also, be sure to check out several of our training partners by downloading the document below.

Click here to download the newsletter.


Alumni Spotlight: Ryan

Alumni Profile: Ryan

Each quarter, we highlight a different member of our alumni community. We want to celebrate your victories and help you find long-term success in your civilian career. We served together in the military and we continue to root for our brothers and sisters’ achievements after service. This quarter, meet Ryan.

Ryan currently serves as a FEMA Corps Unit Leader

Military Background: Ryan’s military career spans more than 20 years in the U.S. Army. After serving as an enlisted service member for 10 years, Ryan transitioned into a leadership position. As a Senior Noncommissioned Officer, he managed three staff sergeants and 35 soldiers. Ryan was also responsible for developing and executing training plans. Rising to the rank of Chief Warrant Officer, Ryan’s many accomplishments included receiving the Top 40 Under 40 Military Award for the Class of 2017.

Career Background: After retiring from the military, Ryan began working as a unit leader for the federal sector of FEMA in the AmeriCorps Southern Region. In this role, Ryan is responsible for training and coordinating teams of young adults who commit themselves to 12 months of service.

Current Position: FEMA Corps Unit Leader 

Ryan pictured with his family at his retirement ceremony.

Experience with Hire Heroes USA: While transitioning out of the military, Ryan took advantage of Hire Heroes’ resources to prepare for his job search. Hire Heroes helped Ryan prepare his resume, building and maintaining his confidence throughout the process.

Alumni Involvement: As a Hire Heroes alum, Ryan enjoys connecting with individuals who are currently transitioning out of the military. With his transition fresh in mind, he is able to help others understand this phase and provide insights to the federal hiring process.

Ryan and his son in their respective uniforms.

Most Important Career Advice: Ryan recognizes the transition from the military to civilian workforce can be challenging. He recommends doing your research so you can  set realistic expectations for the positions and salaries that fit your skill set.

What I’ve Learned: Through Hire Heroes, Ryan learned how to tailor his resume to the positions he was applying to, ensuring he highlighted his diverse skill set. In his current role as a Unit Leader, he shares this tactic to help individuals with their own resumes.

If you’re a Hire Heroes Alumnus and you’d like to learn more about additional services, volunteer opportunities or the chance to share your story, visit the Alumni page and email Matt Kohler to get started: mkohler@hireheroesusa.org.