This Veterans Day, the National Organization on Disability salutes Harry Louque, a medically retired Staff Sergeant who served combat tours in both Iraq and Kuwait as an Infantry Squad Leader and Sniper in the 82nd Airborne Division.
Louque is a participant of NOD’s Wounded Warrior Careers program, a collaboration with the U.S. Army that helps severely injured veterans to move forward on career paths.
Each month NOD highlights one veteran who has worked with WWC to reenter the workforce after serving in the military.
Louque served two tours of duty in the armed forces, the first in the Marines from 1990 to 1994 and the second in the Army from 2003 to 2009. After being medically evacuated due to an injury during his last deployment, Louque was diagnosed with severe Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder related to his service.
He was medically retired from the Army in 2009 and referred to the WWC program, where he began working with Dwayne Beason, NOD career specialist and deputy director of WWC. With Beason’s assistance, Louque secured transitional employment with ServiceSource, an employment and rehabilitation organization, as a clerk with the Directorate of Logistics at Fort Bragg to gain practical work experience.
Despite the support of his employer and his NOD career specialist, the transition proved to be a difficult one for Louque.
“While the biggest turnaround for me was starting my job at ServiceSource, I got off to a really rough start, to say the least,” he said. “I would show up to work for a few days, but then no one would hear from me for the next few days. Mr. Beason would come to my house and I wouldn’t open the door – even though I knew he wanted to help, I was just paralyzed by fear and unable to leave my home.”
The turning point came when the director at ServiceSource called a meeting with Louque and Beason to discuss his situation.
“When I told them the extent of what I was going through, they expressed a great deal of care and established a definitive support program,” Louque continued. “I’m extremely grateful for ServiceSource and NOD’s Wounded Warrior Careers program. Most employers would have cut their losses at that point, but they never gave up on me. Without the support they were willing to offer, I never would have made it this far.”
“ServiceSource is committed to giving back to our nation’s wounded heroes by providing the employment services and supports needed for a successful transition back into civilian life,” said Jim Aynes, ServiceSource regional executive director. “Veterans like Harry have a wealth of skills and abilities and possess many of the qualities employers want in their workforce, despite some challenges.”
Louque attests that his employer’s willingness to look past the effects of his PTSD and see the underlying potential was key in his progress, as was the fact that he was working with other veterans at ServiceSource and NOD.
“There’s a level of comfort that I have with other veterans because of our shared experiences. The fact that my peers were also veterans, some of whom were having issues of their own, helped to establish a bond between us. Coming to work stopped being a challenge and I started to view it as a comfortable, safe environment.”
Empowered by the support from his coworkers at ServiceSource as well as his career specialist, Louque recently was promoted from General Clerk II to Contract Closeout Coordinator.
“Harry Louque’s experience emphasizes the importance of the Wounded Warrior Careers program,” said Carol Glazer, president of NOD. “It is my honor and pleasure to salute Mr. Louque this Veterans Day, as well as those at ServiceSource who have helped him on his journey.”
The National Organization on Disability (NOD) is a private, non-profit organization that promotes the full participation of America’s 56 million people with disabilities in all aspects of life. The organization’s current focus is on increasing employment opportunities for the 79 percent of working-age Americans with disabilities who are not employed. Current employment programs benefit individuals with disabilities looking for employment, high school students with disabilities transitioning into the workforce, seriously wounded, ill and injured veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan and employers seeking to become more diverse by expanding existing diversity initiatives to include people with disabilities.
ServiceSource is a leading disability resource non-profit with regional offices and programs located in nine states and the District of Columbia. ServiceSource provides a wide range of customized programs for individuals, families, employers and corporate partners. The organization’s proven collaborative approach helps foster a more inclusive and supportive community where individuals with disabilities can succeed and thrive.