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Chris Macklin 2014 Independence Award

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Chris had a difficult road when he got out of the Army. He held two high-skill jobs while in the service: he was first a combat medic, and later a tactical satellite operator. Then it happened – while he was stationed in Alaska, a debilitating accident occurred that had doctors telling him his foot had to be amputated. Chris endured multiple surgeries to avoid that choice, but the fact remained that he could no longer perform his duties, and was given an honorable discharge with a service-connected disability from the Army.

With his experience, one would think Chris should have no trouble finding a job. But Chris was finding his extensive training and job skills acquired in the military were not getting him in the door for interviews. It was as though all of his hard work and training were for nothing, and he began to question what he had to offer.

But Chris’ enduring spirit would not allow him to give up. As a Veteran, he was entitled to many benefits, but in reality he was getting lost in the system and was passed around from agency to agency. It’s a problem so many Veterans face – and they don’t deserve that kind of treatment. They deserve the best we have to offer to help them succeed.

Then Chris found Easterseals Veteran Services, a program that has helped more than 500 Veterans and their families to receive support and assistance, and has placed more than 200 vets into meaningful employment since the program’s inception in late 2013.

Chris worked with the team at Easterseals to translate his military experience into language that employers could understand, and reviewed job interview techniques. Our staff stayed with him every step of the way. When his first job placement ended up being too taxing on his injuries, they reevaluated and found him a better match. The new position happened to be at Summit Behavioral Health, where Chris discovered a passion for helping fellow veterans with substance abuse--a cause with which he had personal experience, and a personal victory to inspire others. His Job Developer noticed this calling and nudged him toward going back to school. In fall of 2016, he completed his Bachelor's degree in Substance Abuse/Addiction Counseling, and was quickly accepted into the Master of Science in Social Administration program at Case Western Reserve University. He is completing an internship as part of his studies with none other than Easterseals Veteran Services! He is grateful to be able to support others the way that he was supported in his time of need.

"I wouldn't be able to do any of this without you and the Easterseals Veteran Services Program. I am forever grateful, and I will always advocate, and be there when you guys need me."

You make Chris’ future brighter because you believe in and contribute to our mission. Chris hesitated when he first realized he needed help, but now he credits Easterseals with helping him to regain hope. Chris would be the first to tell you that he couldn’t have done it without your support of Easterseals. Click here for video or watch below.

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