• Vet's KISS roadie job ends: 'So many doors open' for me

    Paul Jordan

    The KISS tour also included Motely Crue. Vet Paul Jordan hangs out with Crue bassist Nikki Sixx.


    Paul Jordan makes the iconic KISS face on TODAY with Gene Simmons, right.

    Paul Jordan, an Army veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, won a job with KISS as part of TODAY's Hiring our Heroes series. He's writing dispatches about his experience for TODAY.com.

    The lights have dimmed, the amplifiers have cooled and the confetti has fallen. The tour has ended.


    Paul Jordan makes the iconic KISS face on TODAY with Gene Simmons, right.

    KISS played in 44 cities including Toronto, Mexico City and Monterrey. I helped set up and tear down 17 tractor-trailers worth of gear in every location.

    It was a grueling job — and I loved every minute of it. And it actually had many similarities to my military life.

    I started each day early. I was part of a team given a specific task, which was overseen by a senior staffer. He reported in the chain of command to the production manager, who answered to the band.

    We worked until the job was done. After the show, all of the gear had to be packed back into the trucks in an orderly way. This was completed meticulously so that it would all fit. Only when everyone was finished could I take a shower and get on the bus to drive to the next city.

    It's similar to the average day for a soldier: early mornings, teamwork with a collective goal, a chain of command and everyone working until the job is complete.

    The two worlds collided when the tour production team raised more than $51,000 for Operation Resilient Warrior, an organization that supports military service members, veterans and their families. It was an incredible feeling to give back to the military community.

    Paul Jordan

    The KISS tour also included Motely Crue. Vet Paul Jordan hangs out with Crue bassist Nikki Sixx.

    I had trouble integrating back into society after retiring from the Army two years ago. It was difficult for me to relate with civilians, especially when struggling with PTSD. I was often frustrated and depressed during my ordeal with unemployment. It seemed as if society wanted me when I was serving, but didn't want me when I was done. Life was going nowhere for me.

    I couldn’t believe it when I received the call to interview for the KISS roadie job. It was the first response I heard in months. 

    I'd like to thank Hiring Our Heroes, who helped set me up with this opportunity. They didn’t stop with me: they help veterans and separating service members find jobs every day.

    I know now that life exists after military service. You just have to find something you're passionate about and go get it. There is a world of opportunity out there.

    And there are so many doors open in front of me now.

    More dispatches from Paul Jordan: 
    Vet who won KISS job gets roadie nickname, reveals best perk
    Living the dream: My new job as a KISS roadie
    Gene Simmons surprises vet with dream job: KISS roadie!

    Hiring our Heroes is an initiative from NBC News and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that aims to get veterans back into the workforce. Find a list of upcoming job fairs here

  • New program aims to help female veterans-turned-entrepreneurs

    With one in five post-9/11 female veterans temporarily locked out of the job market, hundreds of ex-military women have discovered a promising financial side door: self-employment.

    A new survey of 800 female veterans-turned-entrepreneurs finds that 55 percent say the leadership skills they learned in uniform ultimately pushed them to become their own boss.

    But nearly half of those same women acknowledge they don’t have a business plan to help navigate their next two years, while 28 percent report their greatest need is learning how to find and retain new customers, according to the poll conducted by Capital One Financial Corporation and Count Me In For Women's Economic Independence, a nonprofit.

    To help bolster the growing pool of female veterans who have launched small businesses — and, simultaneously, create more jobs for ex-service members — Capital One and Count Me In have partnered to launch the Women Veteran Entrepreneur Corps (WVEC).

    Hatched as a training and mentorship program, WVEC aims to help female small business owners who are veterans (as well as their spouses or domestic partners) overcome common entrepreneurial pitfalls and plot future revenue growth.

    For seed money, Capital One said it has committed $800,000 toward the program.

    “The energy and motivation that women veterans bring to their business ventures is unmatched, and we are very excited to use our experience helping women reach their entrepreneurial potential to help this important — and growing — group of new entrepreneurs,” Nell Merlino, founder and President of Count Me In, said in a prepared statement.

    Beyond the money and research, Count Me In and Capital One plan to christen the WVEC initiative with a conference and business-pitch competition for women small business owners who are military veterans on Dec. 3 and 4. The event is slated to take place in McLean, Va., and is expected to attract hundreds of women veterans and business growth experts to participate in a variety of panels and workshops — some led by women veterans.

    To help women prepare for the December WEVC event, Count Me In also will host for business owners a series of free “pitch parties” in select U.S. cities. At those gatherings, participating women can practice their two-minute business pitches and get instant, expert feedback, the nonprofit said. Individuals can register for the WVEC pitch parties and the December conference by clicking hmere.

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