Student Stories

“Workshops for Warriors is a phenomenal place to train for a career and start a new path in life.” — Joe Gracia, Marine Corps Veteran, Fall 2020 Machining Student

Joe joined the Marine Corps in 1987 and served four honorable years until 1991. In 2006, seeing many young service members being deployed, Joe was inspired to serve once again and rejoined the military, this time with the Army National Guard in Arizona.

A few months after joining the National Guard, Joe was deployed to Afghanistan. He was performing convoy security with his unit one day when they ran over an IED. The explosion from the IED resulted in a right leg amputation and multiple serious injuries to his left leg.

“When I was in the hospital a week or two after my injury, my family came to visit. I decided, right then and there, that however they saw me in that moment was how they were going to perceive me for the rest of my life. I didn’t want to be perceived as disabled in that sense of, ‘I can’t do, or fend for myself.’ So, I took off the sheet, showed them my amputation, and said, ‘Here it is… How was your flight?’ And that was it. Ever since then, I’ve always kept moving forward.”

Joe heard of Workshops for Warriors (WFW) from a fellow Wounded Warrior who graduated from both of WFW’s advanced manufacturing programs – machining and welding. Joe decided to enroll as a machining student.

“At Workshops for Warriors, I get a shot at getting a job right out of school. That was a key motivating factor in coming here, along with learning valuable skills. Also, there’s a manufacturing shortage in our country. What better way to help our country than to be a machinist?”

Joe will graduate with WFW’s Fall 2020 class in December 2020. Ultimately, he says he would like to get a job working for the government, continuing his decades-worth of service to our Nation.

“I’ve been retired since 2009. I’m looking forward to getting back into the workforce and contributing to society again.”

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