When Jumping out of an Airplane with a Faulty Parachute has a Happy Ending

Brandon is a 31-year-old veteran who is no stranger to the workforce. After bouncing around higher education institutions, he ended up leaving all together to join the workforce. He worked as a correctional officer for two years, but he realized he wanted to do something outside of concrete walls. So, he did what any logical person would do…he set his eyes on the skies.

“I wanted to be outside, so I joined the Army as an infantryman. For five years, I was airborne as an E5 Sargent and I got to do some pretty cool things,” he said. “I trained with some impressive individuals, I learned a lot and I became a more disciplined person, a better person. I just got hurt.”

That’s an understatement. One day, Brandon’s parachute didn’t correctly deploy – leaving him with a spinal injury and a medical discharge from the service.

“The doctor told me if I kept up with what I was doing, there was a good chance I wouldn’t be able to walk in a few years, so I got out to find different work,” he said.

He started working in a factory but the position was temporary, and he needed something more permanent so he could support his family with a steady paycheck and insurance benefits. He was recruited by a CDL company, which promised amazing benefits, but it seemed too good to be true.

Brandon took to the internet and found a number of reviews discrediting the company. While he was research, he found an article from Virginia Highlands about its CDL program.

“I called them, thinking it was a long shot, but they were enrolling for a class that month. They offered me a grant that covered most of my costs, so I signed up.”

Brandon spent the next six weeks, Monday through Friday, learning everything he could from veterans of the trucking industry. Brandon showed up early to practice his pre-trip inspections before the rest of his classmates arrived, just to give himself the leg up before the test. That practice paid off, because he earned his CDL on the first try.

Brandon now crosses the country every week, driving a refrigerated cooling unit back and forth.

When Brandon’s not driving, and his partner is behind the wheel, you can find him in the back of the rig working on homework for a bachelor’s degree in information technology he’s earning online. While some of his classmates earned their CDLs but returned to old jobs, Brandon is looking forward and hopes that others like him do the same.

“I stumbled upon the program, but there should be an emergency alert to go to your local community college,” he said. “It’s cost effective, you get a return on your investment and you learn lots of skills, not just one skill. They build on themselves – this is a whole long journey, you may have 100 years, and you’re not done yet. So why not have fun and learn something new in the process?”

We couldn’t agree more.

Like the sound of Brandon’s journey? Start your own today by contacting your local FastForward Career Coach to get started.

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