After serving in the military, Otis Mattox, an Army Veteran and active PVA member with the Florida Gulf Coast Chapter, successfully started and ran his own FedEx retail outlet for nearly 30 years. After an unfortunate injury in 2015, Otis was forced to sell his business and embark on a new path.
In 2019, Otis was nearing the end of his extensive rehabilitation and was ready to start thinking about his future so a PVA National Service Officer referred him to Veterans Career Program Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor Genia Hachenberg. Otis was at a crossroads: he could pursue paid employment or he could secure the long-term disability benefits to which he was entitled. Genia carefully presented both options making clear that the decision was his to make, and PVA support would not waiver. Otis was adamant that paid employment was his goal saying, “Even though I’m in my 50s, I don’t think I’m done. Why not just make a life? I can still make a life for myself. So that’s my motivation right there, all itself. I can do something with my life.”
Next, Otis pursued education through the VA’s Veterans Readiness and Employment (VR&E) program. Initially, Otis’s application with VR&E was denied as they did not believe he would be able to successfully work, but Genia guided him through a lengthy appeal process and ultimately, he was successful.
In August of 2020, Otis enrolled in a local technical college to build a new skill set. Genia and Otis discussed what it would be like to be back in the classroom, and she advised him on accommodations and addressed some of his “first day of school” nerves. Overall, Otis enjoyed being out of the house, interacting with new people, and learning again.
Otis attended several PVA Veterans Career Live sessions, learning different tactics on interviewing and resume development, and networking with employers. He also enjoyed interacting with other veterans and learning about free resources, such as Saylor Academy, where Otis earned a certificate in customer service.
In April 2021 Otis was ready for the next step: paid employment. Genia shared a variety of positions and Otis was most interested in a position with Maximus, a company that offers competitive pay, remote work, on the job paid training, and full-time employment. Otis accepted a position as a Customer Service Representative. He is happy to be working again and paying it forward for others who find themselves in his situation:
“My goal is to go back to work to replenish the system by paying taxes so someone else who needs to go to school can do that.”