While Ethan Israel was deployed in Afghanistan with the U.S. Army National Guard he was able to put things into perspective, helping him realize how good he had it in America.
“Experiencing the war changes your perspective because you see this enemy that in America has no face to it; it’s just terrorists,” Israel said. “But when you are working really closely with people that look, sound and are exactly the same as the people that are shooting at you, it gives you more of a perspective on life and appreciation for what we have here.
“You start thinking about everything you took for granted at home when you are down to all that you live on carried on your back with no idea when you will be resupplied or when you will get your next meal and you’re sleeping on the side of a mountain in the freezing cold.”
After seven years with the National Guard, he found reintegrating to life in America was difficult and compared it to being frozen in time for a year while everyone else around him moved on.
“Just relating to people can be difficult because once you come back, it changes you as a person,” Israel said. “You have to get used to re-establishing these relationships based on the person you are after that experience.”
Israel began waiting tables after leaving active duty in March with what he described as no real opportunities to a career with advancement.
That’s when he moved to New York, and, after doing a Google search, found Sharp Decisions’ V.E.T.S.™ Program. He initially thought the program was too good to be true.
“They paid us and provided us with all the resources to begin a legitimate career, which is really rare,” Israel said. “A lot of veterans job programs claim to be like that, but they’re just giving you a dead end job. Here they have given us the opportunity to have a real career where we can advance, so it’s outstanding.”
Israel is proud to have been a part of this inaugural veterans group and hopes to help more veterans get involved. One of the best parts for him, though, was every participant was a military person.
“When you go into any other job, people think you’re crazy because you’re the military guy,” Israel said. “It was cool coming into this job where everybody has a military background because it instantly strips away that layer of uncertainty.”
Israel was part of the deployment to one of the client sites last month as a quality assurance tester.