Jose Gonzalez is a retired Marine Gunnery Sergeant who, after retiring from the Corps struggled with the transition process. Soon after retirement Jose gained employment at the work study program in the Loma Linda VA medical center. During his time at Loma Linda VAMC he taught veterans how to access and utilize the MyHealthevet system to better manage their healthcare needs. While a very rewarding experience, this entry level position was not meeting Jose’s famlies needs. Jose accepted a position in Washington DC; he had to leave his family behind in California.
Dealing with his service-connected issues was challenging. Additionally, the burden of having to leave his family behind intensified those challenges as he was alone in the nation’s capital. Jose needed the camaraderie he had experienced in the military.
Fortunately, Jose connected with a Heroes Athletic Association supported sports club at Links to Freedom. Jose’s participation in adult recreational sports provided that much needed support system to help get re-established and move his wife and two children to the area.
“Transitioning, even as a senior Marine, was not an easy task. It takes a toll on the Service Member and his or her family. I needed a support group or a “new team¨ to support me during this time. Organizations that Heroes Athletic Association supports provided that “new team”. I transitioned more successfully, both emotionally and in terms of a new career because of HAA´s mission. I am proud to be a part of the HAA team on staff.”
Tyler is a former Service Member who participated with Heroes Athletic Association. During his tenure with HAA, he made a life changing decision to leave the military. A new dad, Tyler was concerned about all of the issues that are part of transition. Throughout his transition, he petitioned his teammates about leaving the military, civilian careers and some of the challenges associated with starting a new career. True to form, his teammates provided sage advice, opportunities and introduced him to their civilian peers from their community network.
Today, Tyler is a Veteran with a super career, and he is a full-time dad to his wonderful daughter. The HAA model supported another patriot toward success in his new life.
“My daughter recently walked up to me and said, ‘Daddy, I love you. You do so much for me.’ As I left the Army, I was always concerned about successfully providing for my daughter. I knew I needed the same income, insurance and other benefits offered to me in uniform but wasn’t sure how to secure a civilian job. The HAA team helped me use the community connections I had developed while playing ball in the local leagues. My teammates took my resume to their leadership, helped me get interviews but most importantly, every night we played, I received a new piece of advice on how to avoid the mistakes they had made in transitioning. HAA is the kind of community resource that all heroes need when they leave their military careers.”
Eric Camps is a retired Soldier who took part in the Heroes Athletic Association. “Campy” came to the group as a junior Sergeant in the U.S. Army. He was stationed at Fort Belvoir and was a terrific athlete. Eric had a wonderful attitude and quickly became part of the team interacting with senior military and civilians on the diamond. As a junior Soldier, he contributed on the field as he learned how to engage persons outside of the Army. Soon, coaches from other teams and organizations were asking to have him participate. Soon he became part of a new network with mentors outside the military.
Today, “Campy” is retired and successfully runs his own small business.
“Heroes Athletic Association supported my adult recreational softball team. HAA enabled me to become part of a local community as opposed to many of my peers who stayed on base and interacted primarily with other Soldiers and Army families. I successfully transitioned because I experienced how my teammates, many former military and the non-military players negotiated their lives and shared their career progression. Many of them were available and were there for me when I decided to hang up my uniform. I was lucky to have HAA.”