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  • Guest Post: Shane Chadwell

Pepsi ACT - Letter from a Wounded Warrior

American Flag, Military and Statue of Liberty

In February of 2012, I awoke from surgery in Balboa Naval Hospital San Diego and realized I was going to have to reevaluate my future career path. My dream of being a police officer was shattered, and I was looking all over the hospital for my ‘cat-like reflexes’ that had suddenly disappeared after that first surgery. I was placed on a medical hold, and after several more surgeries, I was finally cleared to retire on February 28, 2013. My wife and I went through the separation process and the required classes. I learned how to write a resume and search Job Boards. I was given a packet of lists naming Veterans Assistance Programs and other job placement tools. We relocated to Las Vegas, NV and I hit the ground running, but in my case it was more of a wobble. I posted my resume and registered with multiple veterans’ job boards. I didn’t have too much success with it and ended up in the security field as an Account Manager. I absolutely hated it! About a year after retiring from the military, my VA Disability Package was completed and I had received a 60% disability rating. Not as high as we were hoping for, but it was a start. I registered with the Wounded Warrior Project to order a t-shirt and didn’t think much more of it. For the next year, I continued my never ending job search, always looking for something bigger and better and an actual career, not just a job. I received the WWP newsletters on occasion in my inbox, but didn’t really open any of them. Then in June 2014, I received an email from Reggie Gee, my Warriors to Work Specialist from Wounded Warrior Project, asking if any WWP Alumni wanted a career. He stated that there was going to be a final hiring event in Las Vegas and anyone interested needed to register. Responding to his email was the smartest thing I ever did! I registered for the event and Reggie sent all the info about it. I attended the event and met Reggie in person for the first time. I also met a few other WWP Alumni in the same position as me, and we have been pretty good friends since. Reggie opened up the session by warming us up with some Wounded Warrior Project swag and the promise of free pizza for lunch. He had our attention! We discussed why we were there that day, and Reggie explained that the guys from Disability Solutions @Ability Beyond would be there momentarily to conduct the one-day hiring event on Pepsi’s behalf. Kevin McCloskey and Rich Luby (both Directors of Partnership Development at Disability Solutions) arrived and introduced the Pepsi ACT project. They then proceeded to drill us with a soft skills assessment and then hammered us with interview preparation techniques. After taking us way out of our comfort zone, Kevin then proceeded to pull us out individually and interview us. By this time my head was spinning and I was just hoping for a position sweeping the parking lot! When we finished with the interviews, Kevin and Rich went in depth to explain the whole Pepsi ACT hiring process. Reggie from the Wounded Warrior Project and Kevin and Rich from Disability Solutions put on the most intense and most informative workshop I have ever attended. After we finished that day and we all went our separate ways, Kevin kept me up to date on where we were at in the Pepsi process. If I had a question or concern, I fired off an email to Kevin immediately. I figured he would reply within the week and that would have been fine… but Kevin would respond within hours or if I sent it late, he had a response in my inbox by 6am the next morning. Unbelievable! Kevin continually kept us up to date on the process and gave a few last minute pointers before our final interviews. With all of the time, assistance, and advice I received from these three gentlemen throughout this whole evolution, I am happy to announce I was offered and I accepted a Certified Center Technician II position with Pepsi. The position also came with a better pay rate than any of my prior management jobs. I would never have heard of this opportunity or made it through the hiring process if it wasn’t the strong collaboration of these organizations and the people that represent them, especially Reggie Gee, my Warriors to Work Specialist and my man, Kevin McCloskey from Disability Solutions @Ability Beyond. Thank you all! About the Author:

Shane Chadwell, Marine, Wounded Warrior, Pepsi ACT Trainee – Las VegasPepsi Beverages Company Cert. Tech II

I recently completed a childhood dream and retired from the Marine Corps after 20 years of service. I’m a family man who has reminded my wife everyday for the last 21 years that the best thing she ever did was marry me. We have 3 migraine headaches that I call son, daughter, and son and an amazing rat dog. My world revolves around my family, Oklahoma Sooner football, mixed-martial arts, and BBQ (not necessarily in that order). I’ve encountered a few bumps in the road along the way, but I have been afforded an amazing opportunity by joining the PepsiCo Team and acquired a few dear friends from Disability Solutions @Ability Beyond along the way. Disability Solutions and Pepsi ACT Disability Solutions is the consulting service of Ability Beyond focused on helping corporations tap new channels for qualified talent, manage culture change, leverage federal and state hiring incentives, respond to a changing regulatory environment, and strengthen their workforce through diversity. In 2013, PepsiCo funded a thorough internal study, partnering with Ability Beyond to help better identify key opportunities for PepsiCo to enhance its recruiting, screening, hiring, training and advancement for people with disabilities. Shane’s story is just one of the many successful outcomes of this partnership.

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