Unfolding a Community Effort, The Service to Civilian Experience

​​The Alabama Veteran mission as you may know thrives in its non-traditional platform. Where other services encounter red tape and stop, we drive on. Alabama Veteran is a results oriented organization who exists to improve the Service to Civilian Transition Process. We have become the community beacon for Veterans to rally- a formation, helping to make the grass greener on the other side. Whether it’s navigating resources, the employment sector, or the community our Board of Directors utilizes its combined military experience and ability to reach out across a state-wide via our professional networks and to the community to deliver impact.

Every so often we receive feedback from newly transitioned Veterans who were introduced to us by community members, Shawn Weigle is one.

“Good day to everyone reading this. My name is Shawn Weigle. Although I’ve come to love Alabama and all it has to offer I will admit that I am a transplant. I completed my 4 year term of service as an Airborne Infantryman in the U.S. Army and found myself staring down the pipeline of possibilities. My last assignment with the 82nd Airborne Division’s 1st Battalion of the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment was a great experience to say the least. Not only did I serve, but I traveled as well- setting foot on foreign soil in Afghanistan and Africa.

In a nutshell, the military does a great job of training us to be Soldiers and although no one can ever really be 100% prepared for life out of uniform the military continues to fall short in their delivery of transition workshops, leaving us unprepared to rejoin our communities- this became an all too familiar worry for me as it was for my friends who left the service before me.

I left active duty in 2015 and attended school at Campbell University, NC. It was there where I would begin studying for my B.A. in Business Administration and where I would set roots and begin my uphill journey. What I didn’t know was that I would find my wife, Molly Glover there at Campbell University too. We married in July of 2017 and moved to Hoover, Alabama in August so she could continue her education in Optometry at University of Alabama – Birmingham.

With everything happening so fast it was quite a confusing transition. My priority as a husband became imminently clear. I was to provide for not just myself now, but for my wife as well- a full time job was in order. So just like that my education came to a temporary halt as we began to get situated in our new state. One would think that a Veteran wouldn’t struggle with finding work. I quickly found that very few live up to their “Vet Friendly” gimmicks. Luckily I found employment with Spectrum Tele- communications, better known as Charter Communications. This was great news, but it came at the costs of avoidable trial and error. The military helped me put together a resume, talked me through what to expect, and then marked me as complete after a few weeks and set me packing- none provided of any use during my live job search.

​Still being new to the area and starting a job that was just barely meeting our financial situation I felt quite alone. I also felt inadequate. I was the head of a household and husband to a wife that deserved the world. Luckily, a friend at church was nice enough to reach out to me, explaining to me that he knew a group of veterans and wanted to get me networked into the group. That is when things started to fall into place.

I met Al Castillo on a Tuesday. He gave me a detailed brief on Alabama Veteran. Its needless to say that he didn’t shy away from inviting me to their next event- The BHAM Veteran’s Day Committee Ruck Race. Being a paratrooper I accepted the offer and rucked up that Saturday. Upon arriving to the event was immediately welcomed by a handful of Veterans who head-up Alabama Veteran’s Athletics program and instantly felt the camaraderie that I longed for since leaving the service. After the ruck march we all went out for lunch and drinks, which was generously paid for by Penn Mutual- Alabama Agency. It was during that lunch and at the invitation of the Alabama Veteran that I would meet my future boss- Al introduced me to a good friend of his, Danny Noles. I got to meet with Danny for a bit and was asked to give him a call that Monday. I would not have thought this was the case at first, but this was Al’s community network at play. That Tuesday I interviewed, accepted an offer, and began my on-boarding as a Financial Advisor for Penn Mutual. To this day the Team at Penn Mutual has without question lived up to their doing more for vets narrative

Synopsis of this story: Within a week of connecting with Al and Alabama Veteran I was able to find a job that provides greatly for my Wife and I, a group of friends who understand camaraderie, and an organization that builds lasting relationships. Alabama Veteran changed my life for the better and I could not be more thankful towards the organization and its members. It isn’t just the normal organization that likes to get veterans together with no growth potential. It is directed specifically towards helping veterans transition into the civilian world, while still giving them the feeling of being “part of something bigger than themselves”. I owe a lot to Alabama Veteran, and I will forever be a supporter of all it does.”​

We greatly appreciate both Penn Mutual- Alabama Agency and Shawn’s willingness to openly share his experience. It is easy to overlook all the small wins rolled into one, but when we make an impact on self, family, and friends, that’s improving upon what community was meant to be. Thank you Shawn for trusting in us and thank you for paying it forward not just in your current role, but as an avid supporter and volunteer with Alabama Veteran.

If you would like to find out how you can help support our growing community effort, please contact me directly at: AL@ALVETERAN.org