Personal Stories

powerful stories of growth from some of our inspiring friends

VEP Story – David Gilmore

“One thing that is tough when you are in the military is that you have one job. You are trained for a specific purpose and that’s what you do, but the military is set up that way, and it works. In the civilian world, it isn’t necessarily about having a “skill”, it’s more about possessing a “skill set”.”

David’s Story

David was born in Delaware in 1964. His father was a career military man, so like many children of service members, he moved around quite a bit during his youth. “I was kind of the standard “screwing up” teen.” says Gilmore, “So I made up my mind to join the military. Dad had always worked for the military, and so did several other family members. I knew it would offer me the opportunity to begin a career and learn something new, plus I had always wanted to travel, so in 1982, mom took me down to the recruiter. I took my test, passed it, and became officially enlisted with the Navy.” David’s new career with the Navy took him all over the world – from San Diego to Pensacola; from Norfolk to Corpus Christi, Texas. He spent time aboard ships cruising the Mediterranean and even the seas around Japan. “I was an engineman – a diesel mechanic for the Navy, E6, 1st Class. I really enjoyed working on the engines, and the military is great for meeting new people – since you are constantly moving, you are always making new friends. While I don’t have contact with most of them anymore, I met a lot of great people, and made a lot of great friends from all over the world.”

After the military

David left the Navy in 1996. “There were some personal issues going on at home during that time, and I decided it would be the better choice to try and take care of them, rather than renewing my contract with the military. If I had the chance to do things over again, I probably would have stayed with the Navy. I actually ended up volunteering to stay on for an additional year with a ship that would be located off the coast of Brazil, but my contract was up, so I wasn’t able to go.” Coming back home, David spent time at a minesweeper base in Ingleside, Texas, a small town just outside of Corpus Christi. “I liked Texas, but it everything seemed smaller there – I mean it was beautiful, it was just strange to not see trees anywhere that were over 20 feet tall!” He finally relocated to Cumberland County, Virginia, where his parents had settled after his father’s retirement, and began looking for work. “My experience with machinery in the military was helpful in several of the jobs I had after I left the Navy. I was really able to excel at a dialysis clinic I worked at because of past experience.”

While David stayed busy working in varying capacities with several different companies, he continued looking for work fairly consistently. “Most all of the jobs I took after leaving the Navy seemed to last right around a year. I did have one that I really enjoyed that I worked for 3 years, but that unfortunately ended as well. One thing that is tough when you are in the military is that you have one job. You are trained for a specific purpose and that’s what you do, but the military is set up that way, and it works. In the civilian world, it isn’t necessarily about having a “skill”, it’s more about possessing a “skill set” that you can use to make yourself successful. That’s why I’m going back to school. Right now, I’m taking evening classes, Sysco networking and welding through Richmond Technical Center. Physically, mechanical work has taken a toll on my back, so diversifying is something I thought would be a good idea. I’m going to be working toward my networking plus, Linux plus, and several other comptia certifications. When I have my certifications, I want to become a network administrator. I will also be able to branch off and do things like computer and system security, as well as web design.”

While David has been working toward his goals, he will be the first to tell you that although ultimately your choices and what you accomplish are on you, there are times when everyone needs some sort of assistance. “Being a veteran, I’m able to use the VA to help assist me in different ways.” In addition to medical and other forms of health care, they also assist former service members with seeking out employment. “I got to a point with the VA where although they had done a tremendous amount for me, they had tapped all of their resources and weren’t really sure what else to recommend for me. They actually suggested I come and check out the Veterans Employment Program here at River City, and here I am.” says Gilmore. “It’s tough sometimes when you are looking at various assistance programs because they operate in a very black and white way. Here at the VEP program, things are different. For example, I found a job I knew would be a perfect fit for me earlier this year. Now the window for applications was nearing a close, and I had to act fast. Sometimes it’s hard to get somewhere on a clock when you don’t have your own transportation, as you might imagine, and the bus line only moves so fast. Kelly, one of the VEP staff members, literally dropped what she was doing and got me there within 30 minutes. That’s the difference – other organizations aren’t set up where they can do things like that, but the VEP is, and it has made a huge difference. They add a personal touch that the others haven’t by going that little bit further. Melissa has taken me home to save me a trip many times; I can also recall a time when I got a check from the Navy that I could only cash at Navy Federal Credit Union (I think there is only one in town) so that I could get my money when I needed it. I could keep going.”

“No matter what you do, your choices are your own – if there is something you want, you have to find a way to get it. The hands-on help we receive through River City helps to push you forward, whether through tips for finding a job, opportunities, or transportation. River City has done me right, well, and good – and if they asked something of me, I’d be willing to do it.”

How He Gives Back

David is here at our offices almost every day, and is often assisting other program participants with job leads and computer related issues. He also started a basic computer literacy class, which he leads for some of our clients on Wednesdays.

Melissa takes me home often, stewart took me to the only navy federal to cash my check.