WorkSource eases a disabled veteran’s transition to civilian work

Happy Workforce Wednesday!

As partners in Washington’s WorkSource system and the American Job Center Network, the Employment Security Department helps people – unemployed or not – find new jobs and learn new skills. We help them experience the life-changing Power of a Job. We also work with businesses to help them find employees because we know they’re Powered by Jobs.

This week’s Power of a Job story features Matt Hoerner — a disabled veteran who overcomes his struggle to make the transition to civilian life.

After 22 years in the military, Matt Hoerner held five different white-collar civilian jobs in his first two years after service. Leaving the culture of the military for private sector office jobs proved too difficult a transition for him.

He needed a change in approach. Being 90 percent disabled, Matt decided to apply for vocational rehabilitation through the Department of Social and Health Services. That’s where he met Tiffany Plous of WorkSource Vancouver and that’s when his career path took a turn for the better.

Tiffany is a Disabled Veteran Outreach Program representative. With 14 years of service in the U.S. Army, she understood Matt’s struggles.

From the beginning, Tiffany set up Matt for success. She made sure he checked in every week. If he didn’t, she contacted him. Their connection encouraged him, and her mentorship made the difference, he said.

She removed obstacles for him — tangible and not — such as discussing and mitigating his distrust of civilian employers and even buying appropriate clothes. He owned only the suits and ties needed for his previous jobs, not the boots and sweatshirts he needed for his new career path.

“I’m a better person because of this experience and am thankful this program exists,” Matt said, “I don’t think I could have been remotely as successful as I am without [Tiffany].”

Matt started work with a reputable construction company even before his training ended. He enjoys his job and is excited to continue in the industry.

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