Martin Del Rio is a new Veteran Career Specialist with New Horizons. Martin is a proud veteran himself who recently served as the Chicagoland and Indiana State Army Wounded Warrior Advocate with the Armed Forces Services Corporation in partnership with the Department of Defense from 2015 to 2018.
Martin was born in East Chicago, Indiana where he graduated High School before attending Indiana University on scholarship. However, with Operation Iraqi Freedom in full effect and the war raging north, Martin decided to put his studies on hold, join the U.S. Army Infantry and volunteer to deploy with the Indiana Army National Guard as a Squad Designated Marksmen and Turret Gunner. Following his nine-month tour in Iraq, he returned home to a struggling economy, a weak job force and no way to pay the bills. Before long, he found himself homeless and sleeping in his jeep under a bridge.
Not one to give up, Martin employed the “Never Quit” mentality that he developed in the military and spent the next 10 months climbing his way out of poverty. He eventually landed a role as a CIO Relations Manager and taking over the LATAM division at CDM Media. He also went on to serve briefly as the Marketing Account Executive at Groupon, Inc. before making the decision of using his experiences to help Veterans avoid the struggles he endured after his deployment. Martin began assisting DeVry Education Group with Veteran Outreach, and successfully transitioned soldiers returning from combat into classrooms where they had a stronger opportunity to complete their education and begin a career track.
Now committed and successful in his pursuit in supporting Veterans, Martin was recruited by the Armed Forces Services Corporation to serve as a designated advocate to the Department of Defense’s Army Wounded Warrior Program. There, he was tasked with the oversight of support and care provided to recovering Soldiers and Veterans within the state of Indiana and Chicagoland area. Martin developed networks of resources and created local organizations that assisted in bridging the time gap to help Soldiers, Veterans and their families in need of emergency relief, military benefits, or resources during hardships.
Martin, along with his wife and son, resides in North West Indiana where he was the Indiana Democratic Senate Candidate in 2017. He is currently completing a joint degree program at Harvard University – Extension School, writing a memoir and serving as a Veteran Career Specialist with New Horizons Computer Learning Centers.
Martin was kind enough to answer a few questions for us.
Q: What was one of the most difficult obstacles you faced when transitioning into the workforce after a tour in Iraq?
A: The most difficult obstacle I faced after deployment was finding a decent job. I wrongfully relied on my Veteran status to get my foot in the door, but I was not as marketable as I thought I was. High paying jobs were scarce and only Veterans with job specific training and certifications were being hired.
Q: Being homeless, what did you do to make yourself more marketable?
A: I realized that my unemployment was due to lack of education and training. Knowing that, I enrolled into a program that taught me entry level skills and helped with job placement. From there, I was able to leverage what I learned into a lucrative sales role.
Q: Why didn’t you just go straight into college instead of the certification program?
A: My initial thought was to go back to college; however, I noticed several people that I knew had college degrees were also having a difficult time finding gainful employment. The certification program was the best option to see faster results.
Q: You’re known for the work you did in standing up the Army Wounded Warrior Program in Indiana and the success you had there. What made you leave such a lucrative sales role to go help veterans in the Army Wounded Warrior Program?
A: Just that. I knew what it was like and how difficult it was for me going through it on my own. I couldn’t imagine what it must be like for Veterans that had small children and families. I wanted to once again leverage my skills and knowledge in such a way that I could help prevent the same pitfalls for other Veterans.
Q: Why New Horizons?
A: After researching several other organizations, I noticed that New Horizons was the only place that offered the type of consistent quality in education, training, and job placement assistance. New Horizons was the only organization that had a Military Affairs Division that focuses on a peer-to-peer platform by having Veterans serve as Veteran Career Specialists. It just made perfect sense.
Q: Why now?
A: With the Army Wounded Warrior Program running well in Indiana and Veteran successes in a positive uptrend, it made sense to move forward and focus on the new challenges that Veterans are facing, which are underemployment and unemployment. New Horizons offers the right tools to overcome those obstacles.
Martin is dedicated to changing lives and serving the Veteran community. We thank him for his time and wish him the very best!
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