David Jenkins retired from the military last December. He went back to school to pursue his master's degree in organizational leadership but still sought help with transitioning back into civilian life.
That's when the Reboot Workshop stepped in.
Reboot is a three-week "holistic reintegration program" that helps veterans find their identity and purpose after military life but before they embark into the civilian world, said co-founder Maurice Wilson.
He said that other programs only helped veterans after they had "already hit rock bottom and needed help to be rebuilt back up again."
"You can either be responsive or preventative," Wilson said. "We looked around and didn't see anyone doing that, so based upon my particular experience, working for a community-based organization in San Diego, I got exposed to the education that we are presenting now, which is behavior-based education."
He said that instead of only helping veterans find jobs, Reboot helps them discover who they are, set goals and be specific about what they want to do.
"There was this inherent therapeutic aspect to helping the person versus focusing on finding a job," Wilson said.
The program, which launched in June 2010, is divided into three segments: personal identity, redefining values and purpose in life, and career discovery.
Wilson said that 90% of people who get out of the military don't know what they want to do because they are set in military routines and ideas.
"To define their career, they connect it to their purpose and to who they are," he said. "That's a very important concept. Your career has to be connected to what you stand for, your purpose in life and your self-identity."
Wilson said that since the program's foundation, each veteran who entered the class graduated.
Jenkins, an Irvine resident and
Newport Beach-based Orange County Community Foundation (OCCF), backed by a group of concerned citizens and philanthropists, presented Reboot with a $100,000 check at the graduation.
"We received the biggest sponsor in our history by people who wanted to make a difference," said Todd Hanson, OCCF vice president of donor and community engagement. "When we found Reboot, we thought this was the organization we wanted to help."
Jenkins said his Reboot experience was rewarding.
"We learned that a lot of our military experiences are translatable," he said. "It's been a very optimistic experience, and for me, as an occupational leadership student, I was able to learn things from them that I haven't gotten from my classes. It's been a nice complement to my program."
The graduation also included a speech by keynote speaker U.S. Rep.
"I believe every veteran needs some assistance to understand how skills that they've learned and practiced in the military are applicable to civilian life, especially with respect to finding a job and becoming the head of the household again," said Sanchez, who also said her youngest son just finished boot camp for the U.S. Army.
"I'm just excited to see people go out and continue their lives," she said.
For more information about Reboot or to donate, visit NVTSI.org/blog.