While serving in the U.S. Army, LeMar Murphy suffered a knee injury the required years of surgery and hospitalization. Then, while still rehabilitating the knee, he was involved in a car accident, suffering a broken neck, concussion and damage to his spinal cord. Surgery to his neck re-fused his C5–C6 vertebrae, but the injury ended his military career. He was medically retired as a corporal.
I’ll do whatever needs to be done to keep moving forward.
“I’m not one to let things stop me—not even spinal cord injury,” he said. “I’ll do whatever needs to be done to keep moving forward. I worked nights at a convenience store so I could go to college during the day, and I completed my degree in psychology.”
But his absence from the professional workforce covered 12 years. So in 2009 LeMar went to Paralyzed Veterans of America’s vocational rehabilitation center in San Antonio. He met with Keisha Wright, a counselor who works to fulfill the employment and training needs of area veterans, and recalls that within months he had a job.
SETTLING INTO A NEW CAREER.
Wright was able to match LeMar with Goodwill Industries, working in a Department of Defense contract position, and helping him reintegrate into the work environment. While he was at Goodwill, Wright served as his advocate, helping Goodwill alter their fire escape policy to accommodate individuals with disabilities and initiate the process to install a ramp so he would be able to enter and exit the building safely.
After about a year, Lighthouse for the Blind took over the contract providing funding the position. Because LeMar had performed well as a contract close-out specialist, Lighthouse for the Blind offered him a similar position. It’s computer-based work, using a DOD propriety system for closing out base-contracts, ensuring all obligations have been met and all debts paid in full. He works with both civilian and military clientele—and he’s making more money.
LeMar’s manager, Rita Brown noted, “He was a good candidate for Lighthouse, as he already had computer training and some experience with contracts. He caught on quickly and does a good job. I am personally happy to have LeMar here—he has a good work attitude and will do absolutely anything I ask.”
“I work with about five other contract specialists and I’m still enjoying it,” he said. “All the jobs I’m seeing are opening up in this field, and the money would be good if I could continue to progress.”
ANSWERING A CALLING.
Still, one thing remains in the back of his mind: his desire to counsel others. He contemplates returning to school in a night or weekend program to further his degree.
“I still want to do (counsel others) and I’m really good at that,” he said. “I help people out at work, and people ask me for advice, and tell me I should be in counseling. It’s my natural calling—it truly is, and it’s going to waste."
Wright is working to help him reach that goal, too. “His desire is to work in the field of psychology. I continue to provide him with job leads in his desired career field. When there is a position to which he want to apply, I provide him with assistance to develop his application packet. We will make sure he is ready when the right job becomes available.”