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How a Veteran’s Military Skills Led to Career Success and Financial Stability

Air Force veteran Arnulfo Dauto had difficulty finding a civilian career when he left the military. With help from WWP's Warriors to Work program, Arnulfo was able to find a new career path and better support his family.
Air Force veteran Arnulfo Dauto had difficulty finding a satisfying civilian job when he left the military. With help from WWP's Warriors to Work program, Arnulfo was able to find a new career path and better support his family.

Like many other veterans, Arnulfo Dauto found it difficult to adapt to civilian life. In the service, there was a defined mission, built-in camaraderie, and an overwhelming sense of purpose.

Despite multiple combat deployments in extremely dangerous conditions, Arnulfo didn’t want to leave the military. When he was medically retired from the Air Force after 12 years in the service, he wasn’t sure what was next for him. By then, he had a family to help support him, but he didn’t know how his job with the military police force would serve him in the civilian workforce.

To make ends meet, Arnulfo took a series of different low-wage jobs. He worked hard but never seemed to get ahead – or even catch up. On top of that, he was dealing with injuries he sustained from his service, including traumatic brain injury (TBI) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). He felt like he didn’t know where to turn and wasn’t comfortable asking for help.

“The hardest part is not having people there for you,” Arnulfo said. “In the military, we’re all going through it. You have a team. If you’re trying to wade through all this by yourself, you’re going to get super lost and overwhelmed very quickly. That’s how I was for the first couple of years.”

That all changed when Arnulfo connected with Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) and realized he didn’t have to face the challenges of transitioning to civilian life alone. 

Financial Issues and Impact on Veterans

Warriors to Work can help veterans with career counseling, resume writing, interview prep, and more.

Warriors to Work can help veterans with career counseling, resume writing, interview prep, and more.

Financial strain is a serious and growing issue among warriors registered with WWP™. According to WWP’s most recent Warrior Survey,* 64% of warrior respondents indicated they did not have enough money to make ends meet at some point in the past 12 months. Inflation was the No. 1 reason warriors reported financial strain, followed by working but not making enough money. 

The survey also determined that financial strain negatively impacts a warrior’s quality of life. For Arnulfo, difficulty making ends meet and finding fulfilling work took a toll on his family life.

“When I was taking these jobs, and I hated going to work, I was mad all the time, and it affected me at home,” Arnulfo said.

While financial strain can – and does – affect anybody, veterans often face unique challenges because of the structure of the military and physical and mental injuries.

“Physical injuries sustained during service can limit the types of jobs veterans can perform,” said Tony Smith, regional director for WWP’s Warriors to Work®. “Conditions such as PTSD, depression, and anxiety are prevalent among veterans and can hinder job performance and workplace interactions.”

Translating Job Skills

“I know how to use heavy machine guns and calling in from helicopters or airplanes, but you can't really use that in the civilian world,” Arnulfo said. “There's no use for that.”

It’s common for veterans to have difficulty translating their military jobs and skills into something that will stand out to a civilian employer. That was the case for Arnulfo.

Warriors to Work helped Arnulfo recognize how his military skills could serve and add value to a civilian company.

Warriors to Work helped Arnulfo recognize how his military skills could serve and add value to a civilian company.

“I was applying everywhere, and I wasn’t getting any offers I wanted,” he said. “I would just take these jobs even if I was overqualified, and I was getting really bummed about it.”

Arnulfo initially contacted WWP for connection and mental health services, but at an event, he was given a Warriors to Work card. Redoing his resume was priority one.

“Veterans often possess highly specialized skills that are specific to military operations. Translating these skills into civilian job qualifications can be challenging,” Tony said.

Warriors to Work provides warriors and their family members with tools and resources to find meaningful employment and improve their financial well-being. It can assist with resume writing, career counseling, interview preparation, job placement programs, and more.

That expertise and assistance made a world of difference for Arnulfo and his family. Warriors to Work helped him translate his military skills into something any civilian employer could benefit from.

“Any application I put in, I was getting a callback,” Arnulfo said. “I ended up getting an interview for the job I have now. The financial burden taken off my shoulders is life-changing.”

Arnulfo now works with an emergency response team for corporate security. He’s been able to move his family out of an unsafe area in Las Vegas and into their own house.

“When you finally get a job that you enjoy going to, and that’s paying you what you should be getting paid, it's a massive boost,” Arnulfo said.

Getting veterans not just into a job but into a meaningful one is a big goal of Warriors to Work.

“Gainful employment boosts self-esteem and confidence, which are essential for overall health,” Tony said. “Meaningful work provides a sense of purpose and fulfillment, contributing to overall life satisfaction.”

Service Equals Skills

Veterans often possess skills they may not even be aware of, so they aren’t making potential employers aware. Working with Warriors to Work, Arnulfo realized how valuable the skills he learned in the military are, like the ability to multitask and pivot from one task to another.

“A career allows veterans to utilize their skills, experience, and leadership qualities effectively,” Tony said. “Veterans bring valuable skills and perspectives that can significantly benefit civilian employers and society.”

Arnulfo knows not every day is going to be great. He still deals with the lingering effects of TBI and PTSD. Arnulfo said it was hard for him to ask for help, but he realized he was “suffering for no reason” and there were resources out there that could make his life better. He wants to make sure that other veterans know that, too.

“There's no need to put yourself through any more hardship than you need to go through,” Arnulfo said. “My whole mission now is to help as many veterans as I can.”

Job Search Tips for Veterans

Warriors to Work regional director Tony Smith lists the top five things veterans should consider when job hunting after they leave the service.

  1. Identify Transferrable Skills – Assess and identify those skills acquired in the military that apply to civilian jobs, such as leadership, problem-solving, teamwork, and technical skills. Learn how to articulate experience into terms that civilian employers understand. 
  2. Education and Training – Consider pursuing further education or training to bridge any gaps between military experience and civilian job requirements. This could include college degrees, certifications, or vocational training. Take advantage of educational benefits provided by the GI Bill to fund additional education or training.
  3. Resume and Cover Letter – Develop a resume that highlights relevant skills and experience in a way that resonates with civilian employers. Avoid military jargon and focus on accomplishments and results. Customize resumes and cover letters for each job application, emphasizing how your background aligns with the job requirements.
  4. Mental and Physical Health – Ensure that any physical and mental health issues are addressed. If needed, seek support health care services from the VA or through a veterans service organization, like WWP, which offers programs to improve mental and physical health. Consider jobs that offer a healthy work-life balance, especially if dealing with ongoing health issues.
  5. Patience and Persistence – Understand that finding the right job may take time. Be prepared for a potentially lengthy job search. Keep applying, networking, and improving your skills. Stay motivated and positive throughout the job search.

Find out how you can help warriors find their next mission.

*Warrior Survey, Wave 2 (conducted June 15-Aug. 24, 2022)

Contact: — Paris Moulden, Public Relations, pmoulden@woundedwarriorproject.org, 904.570.7910

About Wounded Warrior Project

Since 2003, Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) has been meeting the growing needs of warriors, their families, and caregivers — helping them achieve their highest ambition. Learn more.

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