“My job at Ft. Bliss Army Base gives me purpose, direction, and is my therapy.“
Leovardo Montero is a PRIDE employee and veteran that served in the U.S. Army from 1994 to 2013. “I enlisted in the Army to help make the world a safer place for my daughter.” Leovardo provided almost 20 years of honorable service; throughout his time, he moved up from Private First Class to First Sergeant.
As part of the 82nd Airborne Division, an elite airborne infantry division of the United States Army, specializing in parachute assault operations, Leovardo deployed twice to Iraq and Afghanistan. Unfortunately, he developed PTSD from this experience. In 2013, Leovardo decided to retire from the military and returned home to El Paso, TX. “My transition to civilian life was challenging at first due to my struggle with PTSD. However, with counseling and medication, I started to learn how to adapt.”
Another challenge that Leovardo faced was finding employment; despite his skills developed during his military service, he could not find work. He started his own landscaping business but struggled with finances due to the competitive business environment. Fortunately, a friend and former Army colleague from the Sergeants Major Academy referred him to PRIDE Industries. After a couple of months, Leovardo was hired as a Carpentry Maintenance Trades Helper in late 2013.
From the start, Leovardo’s work proved excellent; he earned a promotion just after six months to General Maintenance Worker, and later to Carpenter in 2014. Currently, Leovardo is part of the special projects team in his department, managing projects including painting buildings and the patching and reconstructing of flooring, carpets, doors and window replacements.
“My time in the Army made me develop attention to detail, punctuality, unity, and a strong sense of responsibility,” said Leovardo. “This skill set has carried over to my job today. I especially enjoy working with soldiers and being able to offer advice about military life. My familiarity with military rules and guidelines has also given me an advantage in navigating around the base.”
“If I’m not working, my brain goes back to a place where I don’t want to go. My job gives me the opportunity to keep myself busy, helping me maintain a healthier mindset. Carpentry has become a passion for me and a method of healing; I even created my own carpentry shop at home. Throughout my time with PRIDE, I have been able to start saving for my children’s college education.”
To ensure lasting employment success, PRIDE’s employees are provided with job coaches, rehabilitation counselors, and accommodations as needed. “Mr. Montero is given time off for doctor’s appointments and medication adjustments, he also receives physical accommodations and additional flexible breaks,” said Rehabilitation Counselor Corina Huerta. “All his coworkers and supervisors were provided with disability awareness training, so they know how to better work with veterans with disabilities. With access to a Rehabilitation Counselor and Job Coach, Leovardo has continued to thrive at our site. We greatly appreciate all of his hard work.”
We thank you Leovardo, for your service and for your contributions!