Success Stories

From Air Force to workforce

Matt RomanMatt Roman was a client of workforce services programs and is now a manager of one.

Roman served as a Security Forces Staff Sergeant with the U.S. Air Force. After he was separated from service in April 2013, he participated in a job-readiness program with the Disabled Veterans Outreach Program (DVOP), which provides intensive services to meet disabled veterans’ employment needs. Through the support of his DVOP case manager, Roman received job leads and applied for an employment specialist position with the Veteran Individual Placement Support (VIPS) program, funded by the Workforce Accelerator Fund (WAF) and implemented through the North County America’s Job Center of California (AJCC) to provide supported employment services to the veteran population.

Supported employment is a model in which people with disabilities are assisted with finding and keeping employment through human-centered approaches.

When the VIPS program ended in June 2017, Roman applied for an employment specialist supervisor position with Breaking Barriers San Diego, a program that also uses the supported employment model to serve low-income individuals with disabilities.

After serving in this role, Roman was promoted to AJCC Program Manager for the North County region.

While the military taught Roman many skills, including interpersonal skills, time management and systems, he does not discount the value and necessity of transition and employment programs.

“[It’s important to] learn that it’s a different world, a different spectrum of life,” said Roman. “What worked in the military doesn’t necessarily work in the civilian workforce.”

Roman can speak from experience. “Having a helping hand with all of those little pieces can have such a tremendous effect on the overall picture. It’s a very overwhelming process to go from being completely taken care of and not necessarily having to compete for one position—leaving the biggest form of job security that they’ve known…it can be very overwhelming when it comes to looking for a job for the first time.”

Roman shared that working on the VIPS program has been the most rewarding experience in helping other veterans reach their employment objectives. Due to his diligence and service, he assisted 35 veterans in San Diego county find jobs.

“I love helping people improve their lives,” he said.

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