Like all Marines, veteran William Bryant doesn’t give up easily. With a helping hand from Operation PAVE’s burgeoning Chicago office, he didn’t have to.

Bryant joined the Marine Corps right after graduating high school in 1982. He planned a long military career, but two years in, disease struck. His vision too impaired to serve; he was medically—and honorably—discharged.


Bryant earned a community college degree and started a civilian career until his vision worsened again. He could no longer drive. He could no longer keep that job.

He still didn’t give up.  But it was tempting.

And then he met Pattrice Smith, a vocational counselor with Operation PAVE (Paving Access for Veterans Employment), one of a nationwide network of PAVE counselors who assist veterans on their path to employment.

She helped Bryant overcome his declining vision, improve his typing speed, build up civilian tech savvy, and craft a résumé. She arranged disability-friendly training at a prospective employer, Chicago Lighthouse for the Blind. She worked as liaison between employee and employer, matching skill sets to real job openings.

Even when training became frustrating, and Bryant’s ambitions seemed out of reach, Smith guided, supported, and encouraged his efforts to overcome. Today, even with his new job, the counselor and client keep in touch: she connects veterans and employers; he refers other veterans to her and the new Operation PAVE Chicago office.

Bryant speaks as loudly for Pattrice as she did for him. “I wouldn’t have my current job without her. I might not have even tried. Without PAVE, I would have given up.”