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Local worker finds success through Show-Me Heroes

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

COREY NOLES photo - Rick Lewis, pictured above, is grateful to the Show-Me Heroes program and Tyson Foods for helping to get him back into the type of work at which he both enjoys and excels.
When a member of the military leaves the service, finding work can be difficult.

Some military jobs lend themselves toward civilian work, but others don't.

In January 2010, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon launched the 'Show-Me Heroes' initiative to help Missouri's veterans and members of the National Guard & Reserve reconnect with meaningful careers, and to showcase Missouri employers who have pledged to do so.

Many have benefited through the program in its two years of service.

One such worker is 41-year-old Rick Lewis of Sikeston, Mo. Today he works at Tyson Foods in Dexter, but when he left the U.S. Navy in 1997 finding a meaningful job was difficult.

He spent years working in the restaurant business, but he knew it wasn't for him.

"I kept looking for something better," Lewis said.

When he first heard of the Show-Me Heroes program, he contacted local Veteran's Representative Carol Drummond, who he had known for years, and asked her if there was anything out there.

"I checked with her weekly for I don't know how long," he said.

As an aviation storekeeper in the Navy, his military training wasn't going to point him to the type of job he hoped to find. During his service, he worked his way up and began training reservists.

"I really enjoyed my work training new people," Lewis said. "I wanted to find a way to get back into that line of work and Carol [Drummond] helped me."

About 18 months ago, Drummond contacted him about an opening at Tyson and he began speaking with officials at the Dexter plant about a possible job.

He was later hired to do exactly what he was taught to do: train new employees.

"I bugged them to death trying to get on out here," he said. "It's one of very few places around that doesn't lay off and I know there is opportunity for growth within the company."

Tyson Assistant Complex Human Resource Manager Rick Murray, who hired Lewis, said that he is extremely pleased with Lewis' work and considers him a great hire. He is now in the company's pipeline towards a management position.

It won't be immediately, but the day will most likely come.

"It's such a great program, but I don't think enough people know about it," Lewis said of Show-Me Heroes. "It is what you make of it. I'm just one of those people who always wants more, and this job has helped me reach that."

Tyson Foods was honored last year for its work as a Show-Me Heroes pledged employer.

Many other businesses in Southeast Missouri participate in the program, as well as its other branch which provides on-the-job training.

The OJT program reimburses 50 percent or more of the workers' salary while they are in the training program. The aim is to help businesses save training costs while, at the same time, helping veterans obtain viable positions in the workforce.

For more information on Show Me Heroes and the OJT program, contact Drummond in the Sikeston Career Center at 573-472-5250, x235 or visit http://showmeheroes.mo.gov/. Both veterans and employers interested in the program are encouraged to contact Drummond with questions.

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Rick Lewis is a great American, and Tyson Foods is a great employer! Congratulations, Rick! You're an awesome teammember!

-- Posted by swift on Wed, Jan 2, 2013, at 4:08 PM

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