Will: New Career, New Life, New Beginning
I can remember the day, January 28, 2016, when I learned my body was not able to do what my mind was telling it to do. I was now a stroke survivor.
I was at my job as a supervisor and linemen for a national communications company. I was working as I had for years, up on a pole wiring a new tech support line to a company. The next thing I knew I awoke to find myself in a hospital hundreds of miles from my home.
My doctor told me I was a very lucky individual. His voice faded as he described my situation. My main thought was getting back to work. After several weeks in the hospital, my family was allowed to take me home. I refused to give in to what everyone was telling me: My life would not be the same.
I tried to walk and fell. My wife suggested we could hire a nurse, which I refused. Days turned to weeks, weeks turned to months. Eventually, I exhausted my family leave from my job, and my company terminated my position.
I was exhausted with trying to get back to a normal life, the one I had before my stroke. My physical rehabilitation and speech therapy had worked in many areas. I was walking on my own, though not yet a hundred percent, but I was getting there. Still I was no closer to a new beginning, a new start that I so desperately wanted.
I did go on Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), but it was not nearly the monetary compensation that I had made in my job. My family had already made so many sacrifices. I was not used to this. I was a 6’2,” 200 pound man that had been healthy and worked on his own ranch, keeping cattle and horses. There was still so much in life I still had to do and wanted to do. I watched three children cross the stage with their college degrees, and a fourth about to graduate. How did I get here? I had done everything correctly. I did not smoke, drink or do drugs. Now I was barely able to talk and walk.
My adult children returned to their families, and I was alone for hours each day. I felt like a burden to my wife, though I knew I was fortunate to have a spouse who had a job. I felt I couldn’t burden her even more with my frustration in trying to find employment.
I found out through SSDI that there was a program called Ticket to Work. I called the American Dream Employment Network (ADEN). Someone called me back immediately.
ADEN helped me build my faith, my skills in rebuilding my resume and, most importantly, building my life. They coached me through job applications and finding me paths to prospective employers.
I had ADEN on my side. They encouraged me. The valuable thing was they were there for me when I became frustrated by interview questions from prospective employers. They always cheered me on and gave me so much valuable information.
Most of all, they had my back every step of the way. It was such a relief knowing that, if something happened, I would have the ADEN team to assist me with SSDI, as well as getting a job.
I did not quit and kept moving towards a new beginning. The day came. An employer hired me! I was so excited. I called ADEN and they were as excited for me as I was for myself.
My new job is a dream position! They are the fifth largest employer in the world, and contract with many hospitals and own many other companies. I was hired as an operations manager. The hospital I work for has 4,600 employees. I have 120 employees with four supervisors and four lead employees who all report to me, and I am making near the amount of money I made prior to my stroke. I never believed I would be able to attain such employment. ADEN helped me to show employers that individuals with disabilities are a valuable asset.
I know many times I believed it was all a dead end. The rejections, the near misses of gaining employment. I wanted to quit. ADEN was always there to bring my faith up and following up on programs in my area to check out for even more help. Today, they still are beside me, guiding me with what I need to do with SSDI and reporting my wages and ensuring my transition back to work goes smoothly. If I had quit, I would never have been where I am today – moving forward in a new career, a new life, a new beginning – all thanks to ADEN.
ADEN is a national administrative Employment Network providing employment services to eligible Ticket holders through Social Security’s Ticket to Work program. If you are a Social Security disability beneficiary between ages 18-64, and have interest in returning to work, contact us at (844) 687-2336.