Navy veteran Thomas Blackburn was driving tractor-trailers for 10 years after he got out of the service in 1994. When his truck was hit by another big rig he spent some time during his recuperation deciding if he wanted to go back to driving as a career.
“A lot of the problems the Veterans Administration was having started to become front page news at that time,” Blackburn said. “That’s when I decided I wanted to do something to help veterans improve their lives.”
The Portsmouth, Ohio, native and his wife were living in Columbus but moved to Lorain County four years ago to be closer to their children and their grandchildren. “We didn’t want to miss them growing up,” he said.
He also found Lorain County Community College where he earned an associate of applied science degree in public administration and got involved with other activities that would prepare him to help veterans after graduation.
Blackburn went on from there to working in the enrollment services area with Carrie Delaney assisting veterans. This work included participating on the Veterans Programming and Advisory committee on campus and partnering with the Lorain County Veterans Service Office and Veterans Administration on events and activities to aid veterans.
“These and other out-of-class experiences were quite valuable and had an impact on my career path after graduation,” Blackburn said.
Shortly after graduating last May, Blackburn started working as a Veterans Service Officer with the Lorain County Veterans Service Office.
“When I began at LCCC, I knew I wanted to help veterans in some way but I wasn’t exactly sure in what capacity,” he said. “As I went along I became more interested in directly aiding them, to make sure they got the benefits they earned through their service to our nation.”
He helps veterans and their families navigate the full menu of services offered to veterans, which can be a frustrating experience.
“There are so many great programs set up to help veterans but they can be challenging to access,” Blackburn said. “Helping to smooth out these bureaucratic processes for clients is very rewarding.”
For more information on services for veterans at LCCC call (440) 366-7685 or visit www.lorainccc.edu/veterans.
For more information on services for veterans at the Lorain County Veterans Services Office, call (440) 284-4625 or visit www.loraincountyveterans.com.