Struggling veteran lands full-time job — and a bit of confidence in himself
CHICO – This could have been a very bad year for Nick Wright, a 29-year-old who served three tours of duty in Iraq.
Five years after his discharge from the Marine Corps, the Chico resident was still facing dim job prospects, and a deepening battle with the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. The wounded combat veteran continued to severely limit his contact with the outside world. He had particular complaints about what he perceived as discrimination when it came to hiring veterans, especially those with emotional issues tied to combat.
But a couple of temporary jobs through an employment agency came Wright’s way this past summer. He liked the assignments, and did well at them. He said he was able to work through the kinds of problems, such as recurring headaches, that earlier scuttled his employment with a national retail chain.
Now Wright is ending the year by celebrating the birth of his fifth child, a boy, and finally getting on track with a permanent job that could lead to a career in a growing industry.
In early October, Wright completed training for a Bay Area-based company that provides medical supplies for hospice patients and their caregivers. He delivers and sets up equipment in patients’ homes.
“I was willing to learn, I was confident, and I jumped in immediately,” Wright said.
Wright has already become proficient in the job and developed ways of assisting clients in difficult times. He believes his combat experiences, which included losing fellow troops, helps him understand what relatives are going through as they face the impending death of a loved one.
Wright also lost his mother when he was 15.
“For me, death is something that has been around for a long time,” he said. “The most difficult part of my job is – how do I say this? – is when I have to go pick up the equipment,” Wright said. “The family is there grieving, they’re upset, and there’s not really much you can do except try to get the equipment out of their way, and try to make them feel like they don’ t have to look at this or touch this anymore.”
Delivering the equipment, setting it up and instructing caregivers on its proper use is far easier, Wright said, because it will only improve the quality of life for everyone involved. “It’s a more optimistic process,” he said.
The end is always difficult.
“When you’re talking to families, you don’t want to make them feel like you’re rough around the edges,” Wright said. “That’s why I’m sympathetic to them. I just wish I could help out more.”
In mid-October Wright began training a second driver, who will assist him with duties on a part-time schedule.
The former Marine said his predecessor did a great job, but Wright is confidently already calling the Chico branch “my shop.”
Wright said he’s thankful for the job and would like to see it lead to a career.
“I feel like I’m giving back, and that’s something I’ve always wanted to do,” he said. “I think what this company is doing is fantastic.”
For most of five years, Wright sat home helping his wife, Stephanie, take care of a family that has grown to five children — three from a previous marriage and two with her. He said having a full-time job, especially one that sometimes takes him from home to respond to immediate needs, has put a stress on his family life.
“My wife has had to adjust by staying home with the kids without any help, but she’s doing great,” Wright said. “What this job helps me do is become more social, getting to know people more in various situations, and that’s something she knows I have to do.”
There’s a sparkle of hope in Wright’s eyes. He admits to having difficult days, but not nearly as many. This year, even Wright’s beloved San Francisco 49ers are cooperating, with strong possibilities of becoming a playoff team for the second year in a row.