Covering those who serve and live in our city

From Pilot to Roadie: Hiring Our Heroes

The rockers say veterans, especially those who have come home wounded, shouldn't have to face the stigma they often do

By Vanessa Herrera and R. Stickney
|  Monday, Jul 14, 2014  |  Updated 7:54 AM PDT
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NBC 7's Vanessa Herrera reports on how KISS and Def Leppard are helping veterans find work after they serve.

NBC 7's Vanessa Herrera reports on how KISS and Def Leppard are helping veterans find work after they serve.

He used to fly Chinook helicopters and now he’s learning how to be a roadie for some of the music world’s infamous rockers.

“I’m just having the time of my life,” Bill Jones said.

Jones served as a helicopter pilot and chief warrant officer in the U.S. Army for 12 years. He said when he tried to find work he was often told he was overqualified.

Then he was selected out of thousands of applicants for an on-the-job training position with the bands KISS and Def Leppard.

Also working on the tour is retired U.S. Marine Kayla Kelly.

She says she looked for years to find a job after retiring from the military.

“It was difficult just getting up and going to find a job let alone the job field not being big enough for everybody,” Kelly explains.

Now she’s working as a VIP Coordinator for KISS.

The rockers say veterans, especially those who have come home wounded, shouldn't have to face the stigma they often do. So they work with the Wounded Warriors Project and Hiring Our Heroes.

Jones, who's involved with the Wounded Warrior Project as a PTSD advocate, works video production for Def Leppard.

"Their whole basis is to get me in a position where I can have a career afterwards. They're teaching me all of the necessary steps, introducing me to the right people," Jones said.

“He’s one of the hardest workers on the tour,” Def Leppard’s drummer Rick Allen said of Jones.

Allen said he has lived with PTSD himself and he is grateful to be able to use what he went through in a 1984 car crash to talk to wounded warriors.

"It's a family, you know. And you're only as good or as strong as your weakest member. So we all strive to lift one another up," Allen said.

Kelly and Jones will work the duration of the tour with the rock bands.

To those other veterans going through the job struggles, Kelly tells them not to give up.

"It's hard. It's very hard but you've just gotta keep looking, keep trying and just don't give up. There are jobs out there and there are companies and people who want to hire veterans."¤W20 72

In addition to hiring veterans, the bands also pledge to donate $2 from every ticket to various organizations that help veterans like Hiring our Heroes, Wounded Warrior Project, Raven Drum Foundation/Project Resiliency, USO and Augusta Warrior Project.
 

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