A Wounded Warrior Returns to Work
A brain injury in Afghanistan left Eric Wolfe of Richmond, Virginia, with memory loss and post-traumatic stress disorder. But other wounded veterans helped him land a job.
Why did you enlist in the Army? I wanted the educational opportunities the military offers. I've watched my parents serve entire careers in the military and go through college in the process. I saw life can be much easier with an education.
When did your Afghan tour start? I got a week and a half's notice to pack and leave on a plane the day after Thanksgiving 2008.
What did you do there? Our mission was to travel the roads, find IEDs and blow them up. I was a mile and a half from the Pakistan border -- at that time, the hottest region of Afghanistan.
How were you injured? A rocket landed 10 feet from where I was standing, blew me off my feet and knocked me out. After that, people noticed a rapid decline in my job performance. I was forgetting things and having trouble concentrating.
What was it like being home after your medical discharge? I hated it. All I wanted to do was go back to Afghanistan. I wasn't being proactive. I was angry. I was injured. I couldn't articulate my thoughts, and I had no sense of control over anything.
How did things change? I was introduced to the Wounded Warrior Project, for severely wounded veterans. I didn't reach out to them at first because of my pride. They got in touch with me for a fishing trip. I went and felt better afterward. That motivated me to do more. If it were not for the Project, I can't say that I would be alive today.
How did your job at Hewlett-Packard come about? I was laid off from another job because of missing too much time for hospital appointments. I contacted the Project and was hooked up with Warriors to Work, a division of WWP. Within two weeks, I landed a job at HP doing network evaluations. Now I'm a senior network engineer.
What's the job like? Internet-technology work can be cutthroat, but there's none of that at HP. We work together to meet the common goal of serving the customer. I have the camaraderie here that I had in Afghanistan. HP has provided training and given me time to attend my VA appointments, and the opportunities to grow are awesome.