November 11, 2013

I was a Soldier in the U.S. Army for 21 years. I have been in the KISS Army for 38 years. I served in both. I was an Infantryman, answering my country’s call on tours around the world. I was a roadie, helping to put on the greatest rock and roll show on earth on tour around North America. I dreamed about doing both ever since I was a kid. I have since fulfilled those dreams . A year later, I find myself pushing toward fulfilling other dreams and goals.

After I decided that it was time to hang up my boots and retire from the military, I had to figure out what path to take next. For the next year and a half, I struggled in the job market. I didn’t have a college education and, after spending all of my adult life in the military, I didn’t really know how to market myself to potential employers. Life had become very frustrating until one day I got a Facebook message from a friend in Virginia that would change my life.

Last year, KISS got together with Hiring Our Heroes, part of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, to hire a veteran as a roadie for the summer North American tour. After submitting my resume, I started to think about how I could get mine noticed over other applicants. So I started a Facebook event to ask all who joined to send an email recommending me for the job. Over a hundred of my friends sent letters of recommendation, including some written by active and retired Army Officers which could have gotten me into Harvard. After being interviewed over the phone, I was flown to New York City to appear on NBC’s Today Show. After joining Gene Simmons and the hosts of the show, Gene revealed that out of over 2000 applicants, I was chosen . Needless to say, my excitement was almost overwhelming. It would become the greatest summer of my life.

For almost four months, I traveled all over the United States, Canada, and Mexico, helping to put on the greatest rock and roll show on the planet. For each show, I had the best seat in the house to watch my favorite band perform. Each city brought new adventures. I had the opportunity to meet famous people including baseball great Randy Johnson, members of Pearl Jam, Bruce Kulick, and many others. On days off, I was able to see my very first NFL game in Detroit, go to a Giants game with my parents and sister in San Francisco, and see the sites and sounds of Minneapolis, Seattle, Miami, San Diego, Philadelphia, Salt Lake City, and Mexico City. The things I learned and the experiences I had were absolutely amazing.

Since the end of the tour, I decided to pursue a college degree using my GI Bill education benefits . A college degree can open doors that were closed before and present a lot of new opportunities for success in life. It also presents a challenge with a big payoff. I am now a full time student at Kennesaw State University near Atlanta, GA, majoring in communications with a concentration in broadcast and digital media . I am hoping that this will afford me the opportunity at a career in the entertainment business in some capacity. I still go to every rock show I can and use what I learned last summer to help local bands put on the best show they can by loading in gear, fixing safety issues on stage, and suggesting production factors. I also get involved with veteran events and causes in order to help my brothers and sisters-in-arms in their struggles to reintegrate back into society . Using social media and other avenues, I try to raise awareness on issues concerning veterans including veteran suicide, unemployment, and PTSD. I also try to put veterans in direct contact with people and organizations that can assist them with their needs. It is about taking care of our own. It is about giving back.

Paul Jordan