Early in life, Michael Kincaid planned on having a career in the military. In 1976, he enlisted in the U.S. Army at the age of 18 and served as an infantry soldier. "My time in the U.S. military was one of the proudest moments of my life," said Kincaid. "Teamwork was emphasized in the military, and it felt like family. [We learned] together we are victorious, separate we are vulnerable."
However, Kincaid's time of service was cut short when he had to separate for medical reasons.
After the service, he tried several different fields, but it was the work he found as an HVAC/R technician that challenged him and gave him a renewed sense of purpose. For years, he worked in the HVAC field, fixing up units in large industrial facilities. He gained experience working on 1,000 ton units and learned how to troubleshoot healing, cooling and boiler units.
But in 2011, Kincaid once more faced the prospect of not being able to pursue the work he loves. "As a result of having a run-in with the law, I became unemployed," said Kincaid.
The following years were not easy. At first, he focused on finding another HVAC/R technician position. He submitted dozens of applications and received several invitations to interview. However, employers passed him over once he explained his history. Even after expanding his search to include less skilled positions, he could not find work.
After multiple rejections, Kincaid was forced to admit he needed help. In April 2014, he visited Military Veterans Resource Center on a recommendation from Volunteers of America and was paired with career specialist Dave Huret for job search assistance.
"I know the difference between smiles, sincerity, and effort, versus someone just doing their job. Dave, Velecia, John and Tim--from the very first time I met them, they made me feel comfortable," said Kincaid. "They gave me what I needed to build up my confidence."
Before coming to MVRC, Kincaid would put off filling out applications because the job search made him feel discouraged. After spending time with Huret and career specialist Velecia Luckette, however, Kincaid began to change his outlook.
"I was ready to take any job, but they said I had a specialized skill set," said Kincaid. With Huret and Luckette's encouragement, he refocused his job search to the HVAC field and began spending hours in MVRC's computer lab, working on cover letters and applications.
"Initially, I was afraid because of my background, but the coaches said it was going to be okay. [MVRC] jumpstarted me back to the way I am."
After four months of a dedicated job search, Kincaid was hired as an HVAC/R service technician by CSN Realty. He soon established himself as one of the company's hardest working technicians, and now his days are filled traveling to apartment sites and fixing the residents' heating and cooling units. Eventually, Kincaid would like to work his way up to maintenance technician supervisor, or even move back to the industrial sector.
One year ago, Kincaid didn't know where he was headed, but his dedication and hard work have paid off. For veterans struggling like he once did, Kincaid has advice to share: "Don't give up, reach out for help and put your work in. Connect with MVRC--all the help you need is going to be there."
Photo: Kincaid (center) with NBC4's Mindy Drayer and camera crew member L.J. View Kincaid's interview with NBC4 here.