ETTAC Helps Disabled Vets Re-enter Workforce.

Knoxville (WVLT) - Local Veterans who once thought finding a job or going back to school was out of the question because of limitations due to their war injuries are getting a second chance thanks to a local organization.

"I was in the Navy," Veteran Jack Bates says.

Serving in the Gulf War leaves Jack Bates with memories of harder times.

"Being on a ship more than 100 days, I think that," Bates says.

But it's a hardship he's faced since childhood that's really catching up with him today.

"The vision problem I have is called Diplopia...it's like double vision," Bates continues.

Since Bates is going back to school, it's created even bigger issues.

The good news, as Veteran Bates applies for some assistance, he had no clue what was out there.

The VA connected him to East Tennessee Technological Access Center and now he's in a training program that centers around his specific needs.

"I don't look to limitations. Based on ability, I try to adapt the format of how i'm going to teach them," Patricia Duffley-Renow says.

With the click of a mouse, Bates can instantly magnify anything on his computer screen. Meaning after a lifetime of struggling to see, Bates is able to gain the skills he needs to be successful in school and his future job.

"I am on a course now that will serve me as far as learning and dealing with life in general as far as my shortcomings with my vision," Bates says.

Retired army officer Daniel Reed is starting over when it comes to using his hands.

"I was very dominant right handed and I lost my right hand so I had to learn to write, basically everything," Reed says.

Two and a half years ago he was training in Camp Shelby Mississippi when, in a matter of seconds, everything changed.

"We were doing live fire with mortar systems. Been shooting them all day and I dropped one. It didn't shoot back out and it got into my head that it was stuck in the top of the tube so I reached up to smack it and knock it down the tube, and it shot out and shot my hand off," Reed says.

E.T.T.A.C introduced Reed to the Dragon System. Now he can use words instead of his hands to type reports, emails, anything he needs in our technologically driven society.

"I didn't know how to type in the first place, and now trying to learn with one hand and not even my good hand, this was a plus," Reed says.

It's been a challenge, but Reed counts it all as a blessing. Because of his injury, he didn't have to go to Iraq with the rest of his unit, but his close friend Paul Thompson did. He never returned home.

"He left behind a wife and four kids. That didn't happen to me, I got to come home," Reed says.

All the technological advances in the world won't help Reed with his emotional scars. However, ironic as it may be, E.T.T.A.C seems to help with that too.

"I served in the army for eight years. I feel I can relate to them, talk war stories and hopefully just help them adjust," Duffley-Renow says.

The training is open to any vet, with any disability.

"If you can move one muscle on your body we can hook something up to you so you can access the computer," Duffley-Renow continues.

A program that certainly proves the saying, where there's a will, there's a way.

If you would like to learn more about programs available through the group, you can call 865-219-0130.


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