Innovative Programs Give Vets a 2nd Chance

For some, that mission has always been serving their country. Marine Sgt. Guillermo Nava lived for the Marine Corps and was preparing to return to Iraq when just days before he was to redeploy, he was involved in a serious motorcycle accident that sidelined him from service.

"When I found out I could not stay in the Marine Corps I was devastated," said Nava. "I did not know what I was going to do. I never had time to go to school. I didn't have a background in anything except what they had trained me in."

Nava was not sure he could learn new skills, or how he would support his family. "I was very worried. I didn't know what I was going to do. I had my wife and son. I thought I would not be able to provide for them. I felt like I was wasting away."

Nava also suffers from severe post-traumatic stress disorder from his time in Iraq, during which he said he was involved in two or three near-miss explosions, and his unit came under mortar fire "almost every night." To this day, Nava's tour of duty continues to haunt him.

"I hear sounds sometimes, or smells, and it brings me back to a moment over there in Iraq," he said. Nava has also had incidents in which he feels as if he is being followed, only to realize he is no longer in Iraq but safely in his home.

While recovering from his accident at the Balboa Park facility, Nava began treatment for his combat-related PTSD, which he said has improved greatly.

He also enrolled in the Transition Training Academy.

"I had no set expectations," he said of the class. "But I picked it up real fast." So fast that Nava is now a special test equipment engineer for Northrup Grumman. He is now able to provide for his family, and his work is helping him heal.

And he's thankful to Northrup Grumman and the TTA program for giving him a renewed sense of purpose.

"I'm not necessarily boots on the ground like I was before, but I'm helping," he said. "They gave me a future."

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