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Kroger offered this Navy veteran a chance at going back to school

Cheryl Callahan was hired by Kroger in 2015 after serving in the Navy

As part of its nationwide commitment to military service members, Kroger has hired more than 35,000 veterans since 2009. Many of them are lifelong members of the Kroger family who found a helping hand after their service and haven’t looked back since. But then there are those like Cheryl Callahan, 27, whose story is a little different.

Cheryl was initially attracted to the military because, in her words, “I believe everyone should serve their country in some way.” She chose the Navy because she wanted to travel.

From July 2008 to July 2013 Cheryl served as a Mass Communications specialist, which is like being in the Navy’s PR department. Apart from her work shepherding media projects, she was able to find time to appreciate other cultures. “As diverse as Cincinnati is,” she says, “there is no better way to learn to interact with a culture than to spend days or even months there.”

But then Cheryl’s time in the Navy concluded, and she experienced what so many veterans experience following their service. “It was weird,” she says. “I no longer had to be up at a set time or even have a regular routine.”

That may not sound like a big deal, but acclimating to the freedom (and the perils) of civilian life following years of strict rules and careful regimens can be difficult. Cheryl didn’t have a car, either. Or an apartment. What she did have was a room in her parents’ house and a plan to go back to school, but that plan was more difficult to execute than she first imagined.

By fall 2015, after a few stints at local colleges, Cheryl was beginning to feel it. The idea of finishing school was still there, but she needed stable work and time to regroup. She needed a second chance.

She found it at Kroger.

Cheryl was hired in November 2015. She has now worked as an e-commerce selector at the Dent Kroger for almost two years. She never intended to make a career of the job, but she’s used it effectively as a jumping-off point to the next chapter in her life. Now that she’s built her savings and found some semblance of a routine, she’s ready to pursue her education once more. In fall 2017 she’ll be starting school at UC Blue Ash, pursuing an Associate’s Degree in Business Technology Management.

“I can’t wait to start,” she says. “I’m finally ready to go back to school.”

Which brings us to what Cheryl describes as the most valuable lesson from her military experience: “I learned everyone has a background before you meet them, whether it’s good or bad, and that sometimes you have to give them second chances.”

That’s sage wisdom from the 27-year-old globetrotting veteran. Thankfully, Kroger agrees.

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The Honoring Our Heroes campaign demonstrates Kroger’s commitment to veterans, service members, and their families. Honoring Our Heroes is Kroger’s way of saying thank you to our active duty service members and our nation's 23 million veterans. Kroger has hired more than 35,000 veterans since 2009. Kroger and their customers have also raised approximately $18.2M in support of the USO. This year the company is donating $1 million of corporate funds to the USO as part of its annual celebration of our country’s service men and women.

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