After 28 years of service, Army Sgt. Maj. Donald Robertson transitioned to civilian life facing a world changed by rapidly evolving technology and a global pandemic. Both added to the stress of medical retirement.
Donald worked in operations and project management in the Army, and he knew he would need to update his technology skillset to land a civilian job in the field. However, he was concerned about the impact a gap in income would have on the family budget.
He and his wife, Heidi, planned for him to retire in a few years. They had begun building their dream home in New Braunfels, Texas, near San Antonio, and they were trying to sell a house in Colorado at the same time. Pandemic-related interruptions of the supply chain meant delays in construction. Adding another monthly housing cost could have been an insurmountable challenge.
At a Hiring Red, White, and You event in San Antonio, a sheriff’s deputy told Donald about Operation Homefront and its Transitional Housing (Villages) program. The Villages program provides fully furnished apartments for wounded, ill, and injured service members with family to live rent-free during the medical separation period. Residents receive financial counseling, community activities, and case management.
“I could have had three home payments at once, but Operation Homefront allowed us to gain financial stability,” said Donald, who was “I didn’t have to worry about rent or utilities or anything that goes along with that.”
Donald deployed four times and was wounded in combat. In addition to an injured shoulder that did not properly heal, he lives with kidney disease, depression, and plantar fasciitis.
“I was dealing with a lot from an emotional, mental, and physical perspective,” he said. “I thank God that I’m still here and still breathing.”
Donald received his project management certification through Syracuse University and now is a recruiter and program manager at Business Enabled Acquisition & Technology (BEAT),where he recruits veterans like himself. BEAT is a San Antonio-based global business, healthcare, and information technology solutions provider that supports the Department of Defense and other federal agencies.
“The classes Operation Homefront offered are great, because you’re talking to other people like yourself, and you know you’re not alone,” he said.
After six months in the Villages apartment, Donald and Heidi, a human resources executive, were able to move into their New Braunfels home.
“My heartfelt and sincerest thanks to Operation Homefront and its donors for what you do for military families and veterans,” Donald said. “We would have had a great financial strain without this help. I can’t thank you enough.”