10 On Your Side Success: Coverage of unemployed veteran leads him to new job

10 On Your Side

CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — 10 On Your Side didn’t ask John Whitehead whether he has ever seen the movie “A Streetcar Named Desire,” but after the past couple of weeks, it’s clear that he can depend on the kindness of strangers.

10 On Your Side’s initial story on the unemployed U.S. Navy veteran, 65, described how he had lost his job as a mechanic in the early stages of the pandemic. Whitehead couldn’t afford rent and moved in with family. His worldly belongings were collecting dust in a Portsmouth storage unit.

The story sparked an immediate response from viewers offering various support, and most importantly, some job openings.

One of those viewers was Kyle Asmus, a manager with Plasser American in South Norfolk. A fellow veteran who rarely watched TV news, he just happened to catch the Oct. 1 report on WAVY-TV 10. Asmus was among nearly 20 viewers who reached out to 10 On Your Side wanting to know how to connect with Whitehead.

Whitehead’s background included operating machinery and cranes, engine repair, and working on boilers on three Navy ships. Within a week, he was interviewing with Plasser’s Crystal Schwarz and made the right impression.

“He has such a huge diverse background in ship-fitting and boiler making and everything under the sun that has to do with everything that we do here,” Schwarz said.

Whitehead reported to work on Oct. 18. He’s grateful for the willingness of people he had never met to turn his life around.

“I can’t thank you and WAVY-TV 10 and anybody else who responded. I just want to give them all a big old hug,” Whitehead.

His new employer is also embracing the opportunity to bring someone on board who they feel will be a productive resource.

“He was very enthusiastic, very happy for the opportunity and just genuine, and that’s hard to find now,” Schwarz said.

The full-time position with benefits will give Whitehead a chance to get back on his feet, find a place of his own and some peace of mind.

If you are having trouble with unemployment and are willing to work, contact us at reportit@wavy.com.

Download the WAVY News App to keep up with the latest news, weather and sports from WAVY-TV 10. Available in both the Apple and Google Play stores.

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