Vietnam-Era Veteran on New Career Serving Others

Joe Bugental

Joe Bugental calls his new job a “Brave New World.” As he embarks on what he calls his “fourth career,” Joe took some time to speak with us about his trajectory and what life looks like currently.

A Marine veteran from the Vietnam era, Joe found himself looking for part-time work in August. While working with VA social workers to navigate the benefits available to him that were earned by his service, Joe was referred to Swords to Plowshares’ Employment and Training program to learn more about what employment options would suit his skill set.

After a more than twenty years working in software usability, Joe came to Swords without a specific field of employment in mind. Initially, Joe sought out our administrative and clerical office jobs, not finding the right fit. Joe tells us that during a later meeting with his case manager Robbie, he exclaimed, “Joe, you could do my job!” That really got Joe thinking about what his ideal job looked like–perhaps a more human-service orientation was the best approach for this next position.

Joe says, “When I next met with my Job Developer, Alli Miller, she really plugged into that idea.” Over time, Alli and Joe developed a new plan for his job application process, and together they identified a position with a local disability training organization as a good opportunity for Joe’s broad range of strengths. “Her persistence made it happen,” says Joe.

Alli credits a great deal of Joe’s success to his communication skills. “Joe was always very clear with me on which job opportunities were a good fit for him, and which ones weren’t what he was looking for.” When Joe and Alli saw this opportunity, they immediately identified the role as a strong fit. Not long after he interviewed and showcased those communication skills, Joe was offered the job.

In his new job, Joe works with individuals who have a broad range of disabilities, and says he never before realized the huge range of disabilities than an individual may face. He sees his role as providing support so these individuals can make their own impact moving forward.

Joe is still in training in the new position but has begun to see his own clients. He appreciated their training model, where experienced staff and novice staff work together to see the same clients. He says, “There have been a few clients that I’ve been able to form a connection with, and I’m looking forward to working with them on my own.” He’s grateful to continue to receive coaching as he begins to “solo” with clients.

When asked if he’s enjoying the job, Joe says, “I’m relishing it! I’m learning from it and I’m challenged by it.” While it might not have been a career that he would have initially seen himself in, Joe has found an excellent new career match, thanks in part to the one-on-one support his case manager was able to provide at the beginning of his journey.


For any veterans in search of a new career, Swords to Plowshares is here to assist you! We offer resume review, cover letter assistance, job lead identification, and much more. Contact us at [email protected] to get started!