It was April in Las Vegas, four months before the opening of Pepsi’s new facility, when I first met Juan Olivo while hosting an open house with the Wounded Warrior Project. Through his positive attitude and the firm handshake, I immediately knew Juan would make a great addition to any company if his background fit the position. Luckily for us both they did. Juan recently ended his time in the military after serving eleven years in the Army and the Air Force. At the time, he was serving at Fort Irwin Warrior Transition Unit for rehabilitation for injuries sustained while on deployment. Only a few months back to “civilian life” he already understood how difficult the transition could be.
“The main obstacle was just getting past the stigma of employers hiring veterans. So many see us (veterans) as a liability when considering us for a position and some veterans come back to civilian life with no education and just the training they received doing the job task assigned to them.”
– Juan, on returning to the civilian workforce after military service
AGAINST THE ODDS
Juan was working as a Warehouse Certifier, training recently released convicts in warehouse and job skills to better prepare them for the workforce. I could tell he was passionate about his position, but he was clearly underutilized after all the training and experience he received in the military. Juan reached out to the Wounded Warrior Project where he learned about the opportunity with Pepsi through their Pepsi ACT disability hiring initiative. In early June, Juan attended our Pepsi ACT Jobseeker Training two-day crash course to better prepare him for success.
“I spent eleven and a half years in the military and during that time I fell out of practice with basic interview skills and proper etiquette when presenting myself to prospective employers. The program got me where I needed to be to become successful,” Juan, remembers. The new Pepsi facility hosted an open house in July for all those interested, where Juan and other veterans with disabilities from Las Vegas based organizations, toured the facility, learned about the job opportunities and got the chance to speak with Pepsi’s management team.
In September 2017, Juan is celebrating his three-year anniversary with Pepsi as he continues to learn and looks forward to growing with the company.
As he looks back, he reminds his fellow veterans entering the workforce to “stay focused and stay the course. There will be roadblocks and you will stumble but there are opportunities still out there with employers who respect and appreciate what our veterans do.” Juan certainly knows staying focused and staying the course results in success. “I have been able to provide a quality of life for my family that I will forever be grateful for.”