Today is National Hire a Veteran Day. Friday Staffing places a high commitment on helping veterans find jobs. To find out about current job opportunities, visit our jobs page at https://www.friday-staffing.com/job-post/ or call us at 828-684-8700. It is an honor for us to serve those who have given so much to our country.
Isaiah Johnson is feeling pretty blessed these days, both personally and professionally. He’s a single father of four girls and a boy: Tehyah, 18, who graduated high school in May and is going into Army active duty in intelligence in August; Jynessa, 16; Kiennes, 17, who is applying for the Air Force Academy; Isaiah, Jr, 10; and Vinterra, 9. Isaiah is also a veteran of the I/9 Infantry, US Army. He was born in Greensboro but grew up in Asheville, where he graduated from AC Reynolds high school. During his time there, he enrolled in ROTC, then decided he wanted to follow in the footsteps of his older brother, who had served in the military for 20 years.
In 2003, he attended basic training in Ft Jackson, then moved to Ft Lee to begin his career, which was servicing medic tanks. “I’d told the recruiter I didn’t want to go overseas, and I thought I’d be staying here in the States – but the next thing I knew, I was stationed in Korea!” he laughs. Isaiah continued his work in Korea as an infantry fielder, where he gained x-ray knowledge. Then, in 2004, he was sent to Iraq.
“As soon as we got to Iraq, we were attached to the Second Marine Division,” he says. “In 2005, we fought in the Second Battle of Fallujah.” In March of that year, four American private military contractors had been tortured and killed by Iraqi insurgents. In response to that killing, the US Marines commenced Operation Vigilant Resolve, where they attempted to capture the insurgents responsible for the deaths of the contractors as well as other insurgents. Forty Marines were killed during the battle, as well as hundreds of Iraqi fighters and civilians. “We saw things no human should have to see,” remembers Isaiah. “It was the worst battle of my career.”
Isaiah decided to return to the States and reenter civilian life in the spring of 2006. “My plan had been to be career military, but after Iraq, I decided it was best for me to return,” he says. “I felt lucky to come back with all my limbs and my mind still intact.”
He soon earned a degree in radiology, where he combined his previous x-ray experience with electronics. But a few years later, he suffered third-degree burns on his hands, which left him unable to work.
He began looking for work again in June of this year. Since his family has lived in the Asheville area for many years, they were familiar with Friday’s long-standing presence in the community. “When I came through the doors of Friday’s, I expected finding a job for me would take about two months,” he says. “Instead, I they found a job for me in two days!”
Isaiah is excited about the future. “Friday’s placed me at a company where I can use my background in electronics,” he says. “And they really takes care of their employees. I can see myself going somewhere here.”
“Jobs for vets are incredibly important,” finishes Isaiah. “It can be difficult for some men and women leaving the military to convert the skills they learned into civilian jobs. Vets have sacrificed so much to serve and protect their country – so it’s important that we honor their sacrifice by making sure they’re able to work and provide for their families. Friday’s is helping vets, not just by finding jobs for them, but by finding jobs that use their skill sets and where they have the opportunity to advance.”
Jacob Maxwell couldn’t agree more. A native of Hooper’s Creek, a community situated between Fletcher and Arden, Jacob served in the US Navy from 2012 – 2016, after taking Electrical Engineering classes at Western Carolina University. “I came to the conclusion that at the time, Electrical Engineering wasn’t for me,” he says. “My dad was an E5 in the Army when I was a child, so I’d experienced being in a military family, and I decided to enlist in the Navy.”
Jacob attended Navy Basic Training in Chicago Illinois, then moved to BUD/s Prep at RTC Great Lakes, Illinois. After the completion of BUD/s Prep, Jacob moved to Coronado, California to attend Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S), BCT (Basic Crewman Training) at the Special Warfare Combatant-Craft Crewmen (SWCC) School House. SWCC is an elite group that undergoes intense physical and mental training and supports special warfare operations. During the first few weeks of training at Coronado, Jacob sustained a shoulder injury, and made the decision to leave the program with the option to return after it had healed.
He was released to Pensacola, Florida, where he was trained to be an Aviation Structural Mechanic, and was then stationed at Tinker Air Force base in Oklahoma, where he serviced the E6-B Mercury, that provides nuclear deterrence for our nation.
Jacob enjoyed his work, but his BUD/S training in Coronado was “a game changer,” he says. It was there that he decided that he wanted to pursue a degree in Mechanical Engineering, and after three and half years at Tinker Air Force base, he applied for and was granted a 60 day early release to further his education.
“When I got out of the service, I was lucky,” says Jacob. I had close friends who ran a construction business, and they asked me to come work for them. I left the military on a Friday and started my new job on a Monday.”
And Jacob was lucky in other ways – when he’d attended WCU in 2010, he met Kelsey, whom he began dating. The couple remained together the entire time he was in the Navy, seeing each other only 12 times in the four years he served. But Jacob wrote Kelsey every night while he was in basic training. “I remember getting letters from him where I could tell he’d fallen asleep writing – there would be a long line of ink where the pen had dragged across the paper as he nodded off,” says Kelsey with a smile.
After they were married in May of 2017, Kelsey began working as a Staffing Generalist for Friday’s, and was able to put Jacob back in touch with a local company he’d worked with briefly before enlisting in the service. Today, he is working full time at that company alongside Isaiah while finishing his Mechanical Engineering degree.
But Jacob notes that his ease in finding work is often the exception and not the rule for many men and women who serve our country. “Job opportunities for veterans are often limited because many people have the perception that vets are institutionalized; that they don’t have the skill set that will translate to civilian jobs, and that they are very intense people who might be unstable or erratic due to the stress and severity of their experiences.”
He counters this with his own experience. “When I was at Tinker Air Force base, I worked with people from all walks of life, who came into the program with different skill sets and different backgrounds. But through training and guidance, we all became proficient at our jobs; many of these guys moved up in rank and are now training new people coming into the program. When you give people a chance, they will usually rise to the occasion.”
“The men and women who serve in our military are sacrificing their time and sometimes their very lives so that those of us at home can be with our families and stay alive,” he continues. “We need to honor those sacrifices by making sure they can provide for themselves and their families when they leave active duty.”
By Shannon Quinn