After missing a job interview, veteran and hiring manager form friendship, still work together
Chris Stout has a history with H&R Block. During his days at Penn Valley Community College, after he had spent four years in the military, he attended a job fair. He initially applied at every company at the job fair except H&R Block.
“They aren’t for me. I don’t want to do taxes,” Stout thought.
But a charismatic and determined H&R Block tax professional working the job fair table got Stout to apply. Stout scheduled an interview the next week.
“I was scheduled to interview with the district general manager Jacque Doan, but I missed the interview,” said Stout. “Looking back, the symptoms of my traumatic brain injury were making life hard, but I didn’t know I had a TBI.”
Stout missed another two interviews, but Doan was interested in him and allowed him to reschedule.
“We sat down, and she was direct. She said, ‘We aren’t going to have this no-show business.’ I knew immediately that she cared about me,” said Stout.
Stout credits Doan with getting him into the workforce and encouraging him to get help for his injury.
“There were days where I couldn’t get off the couch, Jacque was so helpful in getting me involved in a role that I was good at and she held me accountable,” said Stout.
He was an office manager, overseeing scheduling, staffing needs and solving problems for clients. He later worked in operations managing the physical parts of multiple offices.
No show, no call, looking for him
Stout and Doan recall a hard day in his first year at H&R Block.
“It was live day and I didn’t call in or show up for work. For days,” said Stout.
Live day is Stout’s term for the anniversary of the IED explosion that killed several of his military buddies. Stout survived the explosion, but the emotional scars of the event remained.
“When he went missing, it took me a few days to find him,” said Doan.
She invested the time, energy and patience into her employee because she saw his talent, she liked his energy and she knew he was going through a difficult time with a very small support system.
“When I did find him, he shared,” said Doan. “He told me what live day was and I knew he was hurting. I asked him if he wanted to work and if he did that we’d figure this out.”
Doan is still supporting Stout. Every year on live day, the two have lunch. For the last nine years, Stout has counted on Doan for lunch as a trusted friend to connect with on the anniversary of one of the most difficult days of his life.
From taxes to nonprofit veteran organization
Today, Stout runs Veterans Community Project, a veteran nonprofit organization he founded that delivers housing to veterans. The goal is to eliminate veteran homelessness by providing transitional housing and access to comprehensive services. He is also nominated as a CNN Top 10 Heroes of 2018. Doan, his former manager, who he credits with helping him succeed in the transition from military to civilian workforce, sits on his board. Doan thinks her role as a board member is different from the others serving.
“Because I know Chris and I know his work to re-enter life after the military, I challenge him to create successes for veterans,” said Doan. “I represent his story and stretch him to create programs that go beyond housing for veterans. I want the organization to re-invite veterans into a life and be a part of their families while they work on healing.”
How H&R Block is help raise money for veterans
Stout’s organization is also an H&R Block nonprofit referral partner raising money in the spring: H&R Block gives participating nonprofits like Stout’s$20 for each new client they refer to H&R Block or Block Advisors for tax preparation. This year, H&R Block’s nonprofit referral program generated more than $1 million in donations for more than 2,400 nonprofits. Participants included 31 veterans’ organizations across 27 states. Consumers interested in supporting a nonprofit organization in the program can search for participating nonprofits and download a referral from H&R Block nonprofit referral program online.
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