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San Joaquin Valley College Blog

Veteran looks for new career after 12 years in Air Force

March 17, 2014
In the military, Matthew worked a dog handler for Military Police. As a civilian, he hopes to continue working with canines, after a new career of course.

After seeing his grandfather serve, Matthew Goldman knew he wanted to join the military. An injury sustained in the service would change all that, resulting in him being discharged and having to find a new way of living.

“The military was part of my life from a very young age,” says Matthew.

His grandfather was an officer of the Air Force and, because his grandparents raised him, Matthew spent most of his childhood moving across the country. Wherever they were, his grandfather made sure to take his grandson to the nearest Air Force Base and show him around.

“I remember seeing all the planes and knew right from that moment that the Air Force was for me,” says Matthew.

In 2001, inspired by the example of his grandfather, Matthew enlisted in the Air Force. In the service, he worked with canines. At one point he even worked on the Presidential dog team security detail.

During this time he also met his future wife, a fellow service member. Unfortunately, it was also during this time that Matthew was injured.

Matthew had served for 12 years by the time his injury caught up with him. In 2013 he was medically retired, cutting short his lifelong dream of a career in the military.

Matthew was a civilian again. His first real problem was simply deciding what to do with his life now that he was out. His wife was still in the Air Force, so she would be moving frequently from base to base. Matt needed to find a line of work that would let him easily follow her.

Matthew looked for educational opportunities in the Lancaster area, while waiting for his wife to receive new orders. After finding relatively few in his research, he happened upon SJVC. The Lancaster campus offered a program that would allow him to stay close with his wife while she finished her military career.

Pharmacy technology was the program that best served his interests. The idea was that there would have to be a hospital or medical clinic at or near every Air Force base his wife could be stationed at, meaning that he could possibly find work in the pharmacy. There was also the hope of continuing his work from the military, by using his pharmaceutical knowledge to work with drug-sniffing dogs. With a clear mind for the future, he enrolled.

As a student, Matthew has had little trouble.

“He’s very organized, reserved, and diligent,” says Bunnie Cervantes, Pharmacy Technology instructor. “He’s always eager to learn.”

He admits though, that his math skills have gotten rusty over the years.

At the age of 33, Matt is still quite young, but he is still older than most of his classmates.

“So many of the students are young,” says Bunnie. “They really appreciate his knowledge of the world.”

When Veteran’s day rolled around last year, it reminded Matt just who he was, and those around him exactly what the day is all about.

“We take these holidays as days off, for granted,” says Bunnie. “He’s so young, but he’s seen so many things, much more than most of us will.”

Especially trying was the recent death of Matthew’s grandfather, the man who had served in the Air Force for a quarter of a century before retiring as a Major, the man who inspired Matt to choose the life he did. Every Veteran’s day he is reminded.

“Of all the death and chaos that I have witnessed in my career, burying my grandfather was the most difficult thing I ever had to do,” says Matthew. “But I know one day we will be reunited and I’ll be sitting next to him sharing ‘war stories’. Until that time comes I will make it an effort to thank all those who have served before me to ensure they are not forgotten.”

After graduating, Matt will try to keep up with his wife’s deployments, until she retires from the military. At that point, it is their shared dream to open a home business in dog breeding. Currently, he works with Wounded Warrior Project.

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