Operation: GoodJobs Helps Army Vet Find a New Career

I’m Chernenko Wheatley and I would like to tell you a little bit about my life and how it changed thanks to Goodwill and everyone who supports Goodwill’s mission. Without your support and the Veterans Mentoring Program at Goodwill, I would be unemployed and struggling to figure out how to provide for my wife and two kids.

Never did I think I’d be in this position. I didn’t know Goodwill offered employment support services. But I tell you what; I sure am glad they do and that they have people that are out in the community to showcase these services and share success stories. My wife and two kids are also glad, because Goodwill didn’t just help me, they helped my entire family.

I was part of the Army draw down at JBLM. The shock of knowing that my life’s plan had changed and I had no say in the matter was very depressing.

Having the added pressure of not knowing what my family’s future might be as a result, consumed me in the worst way. I had no time to look for a job or network because I was still expected to show up and work long hours each day like nothing happened.

It made it nearly impossible to focus on how to fix the problem of my pending unemployment. Where would we end up if I couldn’t find a job soon? My wife and I don’t have a family support system here in Washington.  To be honest I thought I was going to have to pack up everything we own and leave the state. But where would we go? I didn’t know and the thought of that scared me every day.

During my Army career, I took pride in always doing my best. My plan of being an Army officer until retirement kept me focused. I knew what sort of future I wanted for me and my family. But when I found out I was part of the draw down, I felt helpless.

But a good soldier has a plan. That’s what led me to Goodwill. Through Goodwill’s Operation: GoodJobs and the Veterans Mentoring Program, I was partnered with a man who changed my life. John Ely kept me on track and supported me through this process. One of the issues that I found while applying for jobs is that I didn’t know how to relate my skill set over to civilian language. John helped me bridge that gap.

It’s been a team effort to get me back on track. I owe the folks at Goodwill and my mentor John a big debt of gratitude for believing in me and investing in me.

I probably don’t fit with your idea of someone who needs help, but that’s just it; there is no one definition of who is helped by Goodwill. I’ve learned through all of this that you can never really know the story behind what brings someone to a place where they need help. And asking for help is never easy. The wonderful thing about Goodwill is that they believe that everyone deserves dignity, respect and an opportunity for that first job or second chance.

An investment in Goodwill is an investment in our future.  Because when people are working, they’re providing for their families and contributing to our community.

At Goodwill, they say “jobs change lives.”  I’m standing here today as proof of that statement and that what Goodwill does matters in this community.


You can help a Goodwill participant find success through the power of work by
making a financial gift today. Thank you!