Volunteer Spotlight: James

James Spencer epitomizes what all Hire Heroes USA volunteers have in common: expertise, experience, and most importantly, altruism. Diagnosed with epilepsy at 30 years old, he’s jumped over hurdles, proving that a disability doesn’t define someone as being incapable. “Like those I’ve mentored, I, too, know the challenges. But by rising above them and learning strategies, we can achieve our goals.”   

As a civilian, James Spencer supports Hire Heroes USA clients who are challenged by injury, physical disability, and mental complications (PTSD).  James, too, has struggled—facing rejection and unemployment—yet refuses to concede defeat. As a role model for those with disabilities, he’s proven that self-respect and perseverance are key.

Hire Heroes clients benefit from James’ experience as a successful owner of now-defunct Montgomery Ward franchise and 25 years in career counseling, where he prepared professionals with disabilities for the job search and successful careers.

“My neurological disorder and subsequent unemployment discouraged me, but my friend told me that I should become a rehabilitation services/administrator.”

While preparing for a double Masters in Rehabilitation Administration and Rehabilitation Job Services, James and a fellow grad student were approached by Human Resources/Disability Services to design a program to help graduates with disabilities find employment. James coaches the same approach to career goal-setting to veterans and their spouses by guiding them through a four-step process: locate job opportunities, create strong resumes, prepare for and conduct interviews, and design a record system for tracking interview results.

“My friendships with veterans who had been injured and were experiencing the same problems in the job led me to Hire Heroes USA. Retired, I looked for a respected nonprofit that would allow me to use my skills to serve disabled veterans.

“Volunteering has also benefited me because Hire Heroes USA staff/others show me how to work around my disability that often gets in the way of interacting with those I mentor. Hire Heroes USA members continue to offer me opportunities to apply my skills.” 

Many attest to James’ sharing his knowledge, explanations, and most important, empathy:

“I liked the extra detail in his explanations. His teaching of concepts to think of REALLY helped. As with all other Hire Heroes personnel, he did not just tell; he taught and educated me. I feel lots more comfortable tailoring my resumes for current situations and future ones.” -Mark E., U.S. Army

James is rewarded multifold because by interacting with veterans, he’s helping those who deserve assistance. Hire Heroes USA is grateful for his support and the message he instills: “You have marketable skills that will enable you to succeed. Don’t let your disability undermine your ability.”

Written by Sandy Chase

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.