Marine Veteran Overcomes Obstacles to Build a Bright Future

Marine Veteran, Hilario Colon, walked into the Employment Development Department’s (EDD) workforce development partner’s San Luis Obispo America’s Job Center of CaliforniaSM (AJCC) office, five years ago.

Tired of being unemployed and almost homeless again, he was connected with Alan McKean. McKean is a Vietnam Vet who works for the EDD as a DVOP (Disabled Veterans Outreach Program Specialist).

“The job itself is helping veterans overcome significant barriers to employment. And that’s one thing. It’s all relationship building is what it is. You have to build relationships before you can do anything. Because if you don’t know your veteran, you don’t know what is really going on,” said McKean.

Along with some extra encouragement, McKean assisted Colon with his resume, unemployment benefits, online job search, and housing.

”He was very patient with me because, I didn’t know how far I could go and he was there all the time giving me direction. All the time. I just never took it until five years ago. I got fired, I lost my documentation, I was almost homeless again, and he helped me get back on track,” said Colon.

As a DVOP, McKean networks with multiple veteran programs throughout the county to assist veterans with a wide variety of services including housing and employment. To help with housing, McKean referred Colon to Supportive Services for Veterans Families, SSVF. Colon was able to secure a safe place to live through the program. With a history of chronic low income caused by numerous layoffs and substance abuse it has been a struggle. After facing a few setbacks in his alcohol treatment he is now sober, has a place to live, and has successfully re-entered the workforce.

Colon now works as a Provisionally Certified Interpreter for the Oxnard Appeals Department translating Spanish and English for the judge and claimants. He says it is very necessary and rewarding work.

“The judge doesn’t know any Spanish and the claimant doesn’t know any English, so I’m it. I have to be professional. I must always be on time. I have to watch what I say. It’s very rewarding. At the end of the hearing, the claimant says, ‘Oh thank you very much. I didn’t know what he was saying, but you brought it to light,’ along with ‘¡Muchas Gracias!’ They say that a lot.

Colon’s ultimate goal is to be a Certified Court Interpreter. He has taken the classes and is studying for his certification test day, which was previously delayed due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. McKean will certainly be keeping in touch with Colon. He is convinced that Colon has a very bright future.

”He’s the guy that did the work, the guy that committed to himself, said McKean. He’s the guy who went ahead and is now going to be the success that he should have been and will be in the future.”