Reality: Defined by a Wounded Warrior

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by Specialist Orlando Gonzalez

 

Allow me to introduce myself — my name is SPC Orlando Gonzalez and I am 23 years old. I am an active duty Army Soldier, injured in Afghanistan by a suicide bomber. After this type of injury, rehabilitation is difficult and the word “reality” takes on a new meaning. Here is my story…

I always think to myself what does the word “reality” mean. If you look it up in the dictionary, it will say: “The quality or state of being real.” Sometimes, shortly after an injury, it is difficult to know what is real or not. After my injury, I had dreams when I got hurt that seemed so real. I woke up believing nothing was wrong with me until I saw what my head looked like.

In one dream, I was upstairs in a house and ran outside. I felt like I lost my breath but it was my lung collapsing and my breathing had stopped. It was like I was seeing things, and it was so scary.  I thought something was biting my leg, and it scared the hell out of me. When my ex-girlfriend came, I remember the doctor telling me we were engaged, but I knew that wasn’t real.

I remember having a dream that three guys committed suicide, and I kept begging my brother to check the restroom in my hospital room where I thought it happened, but the reality was that it was nothing.

I couldn’t figure out what was going on, but the reality was that I was having terrible nightmares. Sometimes I think I am still dreaming because it is so hard to believe that I can’t use my hand anymore like I used to. But I know it is real because it is hard to move it. This injury is real.

The reality is my life has changed, but I have survived and will continue to survive. The reality is that there is a purpose for my life.  I can help others as well as myself achieve goals.

[SPC. Gonzalez has been receiving care at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System’s Polytrauma Rehabilitation and the Polytrauma Transitional Unit Programs since December 2010. Writing has been a big part of his therapy and is something he hopes to continue even after he leaves VA.]

Fewer high school grads heading right to work

Automotive Body Repair News August 1, 2006 | Johnson, Mark TRAINING TRENDS A New York State Department of Education study says fewer students are going to work after graduating from high school. An average of two percent to three percent of New York high school graduates enter the workforce after graduation, according to the survey. The number of students who take a job after completing high school has declined in recent years and the New York study reflects nationwide trends, according to education statistics.

The decrease in post-high school job seekers is both good and bad news for the collision repair industry. The good news is students who are interested in careers in collision repair often continue their education beyond high school to better learn the trade. The result is a pool of better-trained and more dedicated employees. site new york state department of education

The bad news has many more facets. Students who are unsure of what career to pursue go on to further education, but they are frequently not exposed to career education that might lead them to pursue jobs in areas like collision repair due to diminishing budgets tor career training programs. Students who might be interested in technical education do not have the opportunity to follow their interest or to explore potential careers.

The trend toward continued education means high school students are less receptive to alternatives like on-the-job training or apprenticeships. All of this means shops interested in hiring new employees may have a tougher time finding recruits.

One way to counteract the effects of this trend is to follow the lead of school districts like the Birdville Independent School District near Fort Worth, Texas. Career education in the district starts in middle school where students take aptitude tests to see where their interests are and exposes them to the districts high-school level career education programs. go to site new york state department of education

In high school students in the technical programs begin planning their long-term career and educational plans. “Students look at their areas of interest early – in middle school – and we help them to prepare a four-year graduation plan that is kind of a college degree plan,” says Linda Anderson, director of career and technology education at Birdville. That plan often includes preparation for further training in that field after graduation.

“In our auto technician program, which is approved by the National Automotive Technician Education Foundation (NATEF), students work towards their National Institute tor Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certification while they are still in high school and they work in shops during the summer. We also partner with the community colleges so they can get their associate’s degrees in addition to their certification, so they have all the skills an employer needs,” says Anderson.

The program is one of the good news aspects of fewer students entering the work force right after graduation. She says fewer students in Birdville and other districts go right to work because of the training they are receiving. And that extended education is something employers are looking for.

“The [auto repair] industry is putting their money where their mouth is,” says Anderson.”They’re saying, ‘We want to hire students who are very highly skilled. We want to show the kids the rewards of having the highest level of skills.’ ” In her area businesses have worked to inform students about available jobs. “A number of businesses offer internships, or bring students in to give them a sense of what a job is like. That helps our students when they are deciding what program to follow,” she says.

Anderson firmly believes businesses can do a lot to gain from this post-graduation trend. “Businesses that work with the schools can help create programs that turn out well-trained students and their support can help schools to keep those programs running,” she says. “It businesses need employees they need to get involved with their schools.” [Author Affiliation] By Mark Johnson Senior Editor Johnson, Mark

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