Mark Thibodeau

Mark Thibodeau VAe Graduate

My Story

I served 8 years in the Army 94th MP Company Reserve. After that I joined the Air Force Security Forces. In 2000, I was accepted to the elite Phoenix Raven school and survived! After 9/11 I served on missions all over the world. All in all I served until 2007 and in over 50 countries.

Before attending the VAe training program, I had a great job at General Dynamics. Then they had a layoff. The same day I went to Network RI and asked for a Veterans’ representative. The rep. mentioned VAe, told me a bit about the program and I wanted to learn more. After visiting the school, I was so moved by the program that I was “in”. I wanted to join.

Program Experience

The instructors were very helpful and were there every step of the way. If I had any questions they’d take the time to figure it out and help me. There was a lot of 1 on 1 training. There were times I was totally lost. No matter how long it would take, one of the instructors would sit down with me until I got it. The instructors were great. There’s a lot of things that you learn on the job that you don’t learn in school but that’s expected. It definitely gets you in the door if you really apply yourself like you should.

VAe doesn’t just get your J STD qualifications but they help with interviewing skills,  and resume writing. I can’t praise my Advocate more with getting me on track. For example, he would tell me “Hey next Tuesday you have an appointment for an interview” when I was busy concentrating on my studies.

If a guy like me who knew nothing about electronics and can go through this school and get hired, anybody can do it if they put their mind to it. No matter what challenges the guys have for the school, like transportation issues, VAe makes it happen. Whatever it takes to get it done to we help each other out; guys who struggle, disabled veterans, PTSD, they help each other out. That’s what’s so great about the program. You see guys who have their own challenges and help each other out.


After graduation I went to work for Lockheed Martin. I am working on end of the line AOI machines that scan circuit boards for defects. At the plant, I am one of a handful of trusted employees that runs the X RAY that catches any defects that AOI machine doesn’t.

On February 10th, the boss approached me and told me that at the upcoming hiring period, I’m a the top of the list. He mentioned that when I complete the application on the computer he would make sure everything gets through.

Around Christmas time the Lockheed Martin facility managers and general manager going around and came up to me and asked where I came from. I said I came in from the VAe program. To that the general manager said “that’s a great program and we need to hire more guys like that.” He also “you set the standard so high, what I want is another Mark.”. Then my boss replied “I need like 10 more Marks and we’ll be all set.”