How A Marine Veteran Fought His Way Out Of Homelessness And Found His Purpose

Photo courtesy of Jason Campbell

Editor’s note: The following story of purpose and perseverance highlights a veteran who works at Epicor. Committed to filling its ranks with talented members of the military community, Epicor is a Hirepurpose client. Learn more here.

A little more than 10 years ago, Jason Campbell was sleeping in a park in central Texas. He was drinking heavily, had been laid off of his job, and his wife had left him, taking their three young children.

“I made a lot of bad choices,” he recently told Task & Purpose. “Looking back, I’m really glad it happened. It changed who I was.”

But Campbell’s life hadn’t always been a series of bad choices. In 1994, Campbell enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps straight out of high school.

“I had family on both sides serve in the military going a long way back, but no one served in the Marines,” he said. “My recruiter met me on the field after the graduation ceremony and said, ‘We’re leaving tomorrow.’”

Campbell completed basic training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, his first time leaving his native Texas.

“It was four months of hell and it was grueling, but I enjoyed it,” Campbell said. “I was a typical 18-year-old. I liked to run in the sand and shoot guns.”

An infantryman, Campbell completed tours in Japan, the Philippines, Singapore and Mogadishu, Somalia.

Faced with a reduction of force in the mid-1990s, Campbell said he accepted an offer to join the reserves and retire with full benefits after serving three years on active duty.

“I was looking forward to retiring out of the Marines,” he said.

But in the civilian world, he could only find low-paying warehouse work.

“I regretted the decision to leave the Marines,” he said. “I hadn’t realized all the good things the Marines instilled in me, like the good sense of being prepared and taking action.”

Campbell said he began partying and drinking. By the early 2000s, Campbell found himself with nothing.

“I took a long look at my life and thought about the lessons the Marines taught me --- determination and perseverance,” he said. “I told myself, ‘I’m going to embody that.’”

He began reading self-improvement books including “Unlimited Power” by Anthony Robbins, “Rich Dad Poor Dad” by Robert T. Kiyosaki, and the Bible. He found a place where he could check email, build his resume and apply to jobs. He joined a local gym with a low-cost membership rate where he could shower and use laundry facilities.

Eventually he got an interview and then a well-paying job. He went back to college, earning a degree in computer science. He reconnected with his wife and got his family back.

Now, he works as a senior consultant for Epicor, a business software company based in Austin.

He pays his success forward to the homeless veteran community he was once a part of.

“A lot of these guys are Vietnam vets. It’s really hard to help those guys,” he said. “The best we can do is go down there, feed them and make sure they have a warm sleeping bag and warm clothes.”

His advice to other homeless veterans: Don’t give up.

“Learn to persevere and succeed with what you have,” he said. “I’m glad for the journey and thankful God got me through it.”

Andrea Signor is a freelance journalist living in Ann Arbor, Michigan. She has covered the military for more than five years, including a two-year stint on staff at the Fort Carson Mountaineer.

Every once in a while, we run across a photo in The Times-Picayune archives that's so striking that it begs a simple question: "What in the name of Momus Alexander Morgus is going on in this New Orleans photograph?" When we do, we've decided, we're going to share it — and to attempt to answer that question.

Read More Show Less
Members of the Syrian Democratic Forces control the monitor of their drone at their advanced position, during the fighting with Islamic State's fighters in Nazlat Shahada, a district of Raqqa. (Reuters/Zohra Bensemra)

MUSCAT (Reuters) - The United States should keep arming and aiding the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) following the planned U.S. withdrawal from Syria, provided the group keeps up the pressure on Islamic State, a senior U.S. general told Reuters on Friday.

Read More Show Less

President Donald Trump claims the $6.1 billion from the Defense Department's budget that he will now spend on his border wall was not going to be used for anything "important."

Trump announced on Friday that he was declaring a national emergency, allowing him to tap into military funding to help pay for barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Read More Show Less

Long before Tony Stark took a load of shrapnel to the chest in a distant war zone, science fiction legend Robert Heinlein gave America the most visceral description of powered armor for the warfighter of the future. Forget the spines of extra-lethal weaponry, the heads-up display, and even the augmented strength of an Iron Man suit — the real genius, Heinlein wrote in Starship Troopers, "is that you don't have to control the suit; you just wear it, like your clothes, like skin."

"Any sort of ship you have to learn to pilot; it takes a long time, a new full set of reflexes, a different and artificial way of thinking," explains Johnny Rico. "Spaceships are for acrobats who are also mathematicians. But a suit, you just wear."

First introduced in 2013, U.S. Special Operations Command's Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS) purported to offer this capability as America's first stab at militarized powered armor. And while SOCOM initially promised a veritable Iron Man-style tactical armor by 2018, a Navy spokesman told Task & Purpose the much-hyped exoskeleton will likely never get off the launch pad.

"The prototype itself is not currently suitable for operation in a close combat environment," SOCOM spokesman Navy Lt. Phillip Chitty told Task & Purpose, adding that JATF-TALOS has no plans for an external demonstration this year. "There is still no intent to field the TALOS Mk 5 combat suit prototype."

Read More Show Less

D-Day veteran James McCue died a hero. About 500 strangers made sure of it.

"It's beautiful," Army Sgt. Pete Rooney said of the crowd that gathered in the cold and stood on the snow Thursday during McCue's burial. "I wish it happened for every veteran's funeral."

Read More Show Less