As we prepare for Military Appreciation Month, NIB is spotlighting a few of the more than 550 military veterans employed at NIB associated nonprofit agencies. Daryl Wells and Davian Andrews are two veterans who have built careers at Industries of the Blind (IOB), headquartered in Greensboro, North Carolina.
People who think there is rivalry between branches of the military have never met Army veteran Wells – an expeditor – and Marine Corps veteran Andrews – a handler. Both work in IOB’s distribution center and say they are truly brothers.
Wells enlisted in the Army in 1980 with no idea what to expect. To his surprise, he excelled. “I got the Soldier of the Cycle Award [given to the top soldier for each training cycle] and spoke in front of the class,” he recalls.
While at advanced training, a recruiter from the 82nd Airborne Division introduced himself. “He told me that I could jump out of airplanes.” says Wells. With that, he headed to Airborne training.
“It was a great experience, jumping with the unit. At any given time, we had to be able to have ‘boots on the ground’ in 18 hours,” recalls Wells, who set up battlefield communications.
The unit took sports very seriously, and Wells got into boxing. “I was winning,” he says with a laugh, “until I ran into a Mike Tyson look-alike and got hit in the head.” The injury resulted in legal blindness and he was medically discharged after serving four years.
When IOB offered him employment in Greensboro in 2003 Wells moved his family back to his hometown. He took a position in the distribution center in 2006.
“I love it here,” says Wells. “It has given me personal development, greater independence, and self-worth. And I’m still supporting our troops, and that feels great.”
Unlike Wells, Andrews wasn’t given much of a choice about joining the Marines. As a young man he “got into some trouble,” while visiting his grandparents. “I was given two options by the judge: I could join the military or go to jail. I chose the military.”
In July 1977, Andrews found himself at Parris Island for basic training.
“At first, I didn’t want to be there, but all of a sudden, I wanted to be like my drill sergeant,” recalls Andrews, who in a few short weeks went from reluctant enlister to dedicated Marine.
Andrews was stationed in Iran, Beirut, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar. He earned a Purple Heart after he was shot twice in the chest on a mission in Panama. He survived two helicopter crashes and served in Desert Storm, retiring in April 1993.
After his discharge, Andrews worked as a security contractor overseas. He survived his third helicopter crash in 1999, but both of his retinas detached and he lost his eyesight.
After working 13 years at NIB associated agency Lions Services in Charlotte, North Carolina, he moved to IOB in 2016. His work in the distribution center, he says, makes him feel like he is still serving.
“Everything we touch is for our troops,” says Andrews. “I’m so proud to be a part of an organization that makes high-quality SKILCRAFT® products and equipment for our troops.”