“Vets & Employers Connection took me under their wing. They helped me get a job at Wright Patterson Air Force Base Commissary. The job provided me with the benefits I needed. I am truly grateful for everything they have done for me.” – Kristoffer Cook
Kristoffer Cook knew he wanted to be a United States Marine since he was eight years old. “After seeing two fellow Marines dressed in their uniforms at my sister’s high school graduation, I was positive that I wanted to be a Marine”. After graduating early from Kettering Fairmont H.S. in 2008, Kris enlisted with hopes of becoming a pilot. However, the Marines had a different path in mind. “The Marine Corps decided to make me an Aircraft Controller instead. I then went through a difficult 16 week program to prepare me for the job”. Although deemed a difficult program, it was no match for Kris. He graduated at the top of his class in Pensacola, Florida. After he was transferred to North Carolina, Kris also trained as a Weapons Instructor. During a training session, he suffered a serious injury. “An incident occurred while I was working on a weapon that caused me to suffer from optic neuritis, an inflammation that damages the optic nerve. Due to this incident, I was completely blind for 10 weeks and am still partially blind today.” This incident resulted in Kris’s inability to be an Aircraft Controller, so he became a full time Weapons Instructor.
When it came to deciding whether to reenlist or not, Kris decided to return home. He eventually realized returning home wasn’t easy. “Being in the military is its own world. When I was in the Marine Corps I felt as if I had a sense of purpose. Not being a Marine, made me question who I am.” He felt like he didn’t fit in at home anymore. “I had a hard time finding jobs and I felt as if my self-esteem was gone. I even struggled with addiction during this time.” Kris felt that he lost everything; something he dreamed of since eight years old. After taking a step back and looking at his life, Kris decided to make a change. “I needed to find a new passion.”
Kris sought help at the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA). There he met with a counselor, who set him up with Goodwill Easter Seals Miami Valley (GESMV) Veterans & Employers Connection. Veterans & Employers Connection is a partnership with employers and community resources that support veterans by obtaining employment in the civilian workforce. This program is a valuable resource providing employment support services for veterans while supplying a great candidate source for employers that want to hire service men and women. “Vets & Employers Connection took me under their wing. They helped me get a job at Wright Patterson Air Force Base Commissary. The job provided me with the benefits I needed. I am truly grateful for everything they have done for me.”
Without Goodwill Easter Seals Miami Valley, Kris doesn’t know where he would be today. “Goodwill is a blessing. They embraced my background and helped me find a job.” Inspired by his son and the GESMV community, Kris is working towards his new goals every day. He has one goal in mind in particular to accomplish. “I want to give back and help others just like Goodwill did for me.” Thanks to Goodwill Easter Seals Miami Valley, Kris has found his new passion.
By: Erin Staley