Veterans Voices: Helping veterans transition back to civilian life

Veterans Voices

BATH, N.Y. (WETM) – Johnny Ballam grew up in the Steuben County Town of Prattsburgh. It was during college when he decided to join the U.S. Army. Serving in leadership roles in the military has helped Ballam serve other veterans, at the Bath VA Medical Center, as they make the transition from the battlefield to civilian life.

The following is a transcript of our interview with Johnny Ballam.

I attended Keuka College right after I graduated from high school. 9/11 happened when I was a freshman in college. The summer before my junior/senior years of school I was at that point. “What am I going to do after I graduate? ” I had friends that joined the military right after high school.

I was getting ready to graduate in 2005. Growing up my Mother worked for the VA, she just recently retired at the end of July with 30 plus years working for the VA. I’ve visited with patients, I work with veterans growing up in my different jobs. I felt the obligation and duty to serve my country. So that drove me in that direction.

I spent just shy of 10-years in. I deployed to Iraq for Operation Iraqi Freedom and did two tours in Afghanistan with Operation Enduring Freedom. When I came back, at the time, I was in my early 30s. It was just time.

When a veteran is transitioning out of service and they are looking for employment opportunities, a lot of times they will direct them my way. I’ll sit with them and I’ll explain to them some of their options. They have unique authorities that they can use for hiring veterans. I at least explain the options to them. I place them in their talents we can use around campus.

Johnny Ballam

Johnny was also involved with Hurricane Sandy clean up where he took the army’s fuel assets down to help refuel first responders.

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