By Tatiana Peralta

Every military veteran has stories. There are stories from active duty and stories about what life is like after leaving the service. This Veterans Day, we’re sharing one veteran’s story.

After 18 and a half years in the U.S. Army, leadership comes naturally to Troy Hamill. Following his last tour in Iraq, Troy was discharged with an injury, and he needed to figure out what came next. Despite knowing very little about computers, he went back to school and earned an associate degree in Computer Systems.

Shortly after Troy graduated, Global Connections to Employment (GCE) sought him out for an opportunity through the AbilityOne Program. Today as a Quality Assurance Lead, Troy leads a team of eight people, testing web apps for veterans and the Department of Defense. His job gives him an opportunity to stay connected with his military roots and also allows him to use his strength as a leader to empower and support other professionals with disabilities.

We recently had a chance to catch up with Troy to talk about his job and how the AbilityOne Program has impacted his life.

Tell us about your experiences with GCE and your team.

After I got hurt, I had to transition into something that was going to be feasible for me and my family. When GCE sought me out, it was a great opportunity to put what I learned in school to work. 

Our team tests web mobile applications for veterans and the Department of Defense. It’s a role I really enjoy because of my past with the military. We are tasked with making sure there are no bugs within the apps and that they run smoothly. If there’s an error, we try to fix it to the best of our abilities. Our goal is to not get any negative feedback from our customers. If we do, it means we have missed something.

Because of my experience in the military, having a team is something that comes naturally to me. Taking on the role of lead was the easy part for me because it’s what I was used to. I enjoy the fact that at GCE we all help each other out when we need to. Most of the people on my team are employed through the AbilityOne Program, and because of that, there’s a huge level of understanding and fairness.

The best part is that we all feel like there’s an opportunity to get ahead in our roles. 

How has the AbilityOne Program changed your life?

Over the years, I’ve had a lot of friends come out of the military and go to jobs where they lasted 2-3 months because of their disability. The companies would often treat them as if something was wrong with them. But the AbilityOne Program is a solution to that challenge.

Even though I didn’t know anything about computers, GCE didn’t look at me and grunt. Instead, they saw me as an equal. The AbilityOne Program makes this supportive environment possible. Even when things aren’t going as planned, everyone is supportive of one another. In fact, we help each other overcome challenges. At GCE it’s okay to face roadblocks, and we work together to overcome them. When you have a disability, it’s hard to find a place that won’t interject instead of letting you solve the problem on your own.

The AbilityOne Program gives people like me and those on my team an opportunity to do work they can excel in. At the end of the day, we all deserve to feel equal, no matter where we are.

What motivates you?

I am motivated in knowing that I work for a company that has invested their time in me and me in them. It’s a great feeling to know that everyone who’s in the AbilityOne Program is doing better than what they would have done outside of the program.

GCE is the kind of place where if they say they are going to do something, they do it. Our president is always listening to our ideas and putting them in place to make this place even better than it already is. He stays and listens to all of us. This is something that maybe wouldn’t happen at other companies. I probably won’t leave GCE anytime soon because of the environment they have created for us. 

I am grateful to know that if there’s ever anything I need because of my disability; I am not going to be looked at like I have three eyes. Knowing you’re in an environment like that is such a gratifying feeling. 

This Veterans Day and every day, SourceAmerica thanks the men and women who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces.