The veteran employment process can often be a journey with many ebbs and flows along the way. This was the case with US Marine Corps veteran, Rita Vanhvermaet. Rita was referred to PAVE by the Minneapolis VA transition team and began working with PAVE Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor Jim Arndt in 2016.

The first part of her employment journey was exciting when she accepted a position with a work from home IT company. Rita did not have any IT experience or college training, but the organization was willing to take a chance and she invested the time to learn new skills. Over the next several years Rita applied herself and received a promotion. In 2018, Rita represented the PAVE program at our annual Paralyzed Veterans Golf Open. She spoke about her experience working with PAVE and met with many of our donors. 

However, at the end of 2019, her employer went out of business, forcing Rita to reevaluate her career goals. Jim reached out to Rita, once again providing guidance and support as she explored new opportunities. Jim also shared information about our new PAVE Connect interactive sessions. Rita joined a PAVE Connect session titled Starting a Job Search, where she was able to interact with other veteran job seekers and learn new tips and about available resources.  

While Rita was working with Jim and looking for another paid position, she continued  to stay engaged volunteering with a new local veteran community center called Foss and Swanson Veterans Gathering. Rita also connected with representatives from the IDS group and discovered her previous IT skills were a great match for this new employer. After multiple interviews she was offered and accepted an Applications Specialist Manager position.

Rita shared with us about her experience working with PAVE: “Jim Arndt and the PAVE program came into my life at such a critical time. After moving across the country and starting from scratch I was hesitant in what direction to take my career. Working with Jim over the years as my PAVE counselor, mentor and friend has been a huge blessing. Jim’s guidance, belief in the PAVE program and myself have nurtured a confidence that has challenged me to rise to the occasion time and time again. My family’s life is forever changed and I am forever grateful and humbled.”