U.S. Air Force veteran Brandon Solonka reached out to PVA’s Employment Program, PAVE, shortly before the Fall 2020 semester of school started. He has a B.A. in History and was working as an environmental geologist, but his service-connected disability made it necessary for him to transition to a new career that would better suit his needs.
Brandon wanted to pursue a Master’s in Computer Science. Not only did the field appeal to him and present a viable career path with his disability, but he hoped down the line he might be able to combine his passion for geology with computer science to build computer programs to search for things in the earth.
PAVE Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor Joel Hoots worked with Brandon to obtain Veteran Readiness and Employment (VR&E) financing so Brandon could go back to school for his Master’s. VR&E helps veterans pursue new employment opportunities if they have a service-connected disability that prevents them from working or limits their ability to work. Joel and Brandon gathered a great amount of information for the VR&E proposal including employment statistics, paid-internship opportunities, and labor market statistics which showed that Brandon’s plan was workable and would improve his quality of life. Because he was so well prepared for his first meeting with the VR&E counselor, he was able to attain financing for school.
Joel also directed Brandon to an academic counselor, as well as the veteran resource center and other veteran contacts to help guide him through the graduate school experience.
Brandon has now been accepted to Arizona State University and is currently completing a few undergraduate classes to satisfy prerequisites on the path to his Master’s Degree. PVA will continue to help Brandon along the way by keeping in touch with him and helping him find internships and employment in his new field when the time comes.
Brandon’s story is an example of how PVA’s Employment Program, PAVE, staff work on a personal level with each veteran, taking into account their interests and needs, and help them engage all available resources in pursuit of their goals.