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Wall Street Firm Finds Jobs for War Veterans

By: Maria Alvarez, special to Newsday (www.newsday.com)                                                                                        Published: August 7, 2013

Photo credit: Jennifer S. Altman | President of Drexel Hamilton Jim Cahill oversees the Wall Street brokerage firm hires and trains wounded and returning vets for white collar finance jobs. (Aug. 6, 2013)

Ten years after he fought in the invasion of Iraq, Army veteran Joe Krulder of Massapequa was still fighting for his life here at home.

Krulder, 34, Wednesday recapped his recovery from battle trauma and homelessness to a new career at a Wall Street firm that hires and trains war veterans for lucrative high-finance jobs.

The firm, Drexel Hamilton, does not hire Harvard, Princeton and other Ivy League business graduates, it hires veterans instead. They are trained by a cadre of senior Wall Street financial experts with decades of experience from the Street’s top firms.

“These people work hard. They are the Joes of the world who deserve to buy a home for their families and have a decent shot at the American dream,” said James Cahill, 76, president of Drexel Hamilton, who has 45 years of Wall Street experience.

Drexel Hamilton has 69 employees; 31 are veterans and another 14 are disabled veterans.

Krulder was down and out when he came to Drexel Hamilton a year ago. “I was sleeping in my car; getting food wherever I could get it, and doing what I could to get a job,” he said.

Krulder, with a business degree from SUNY Maritime College in the Bronx, enlisted in the Army several months before 9/11. At 22, he was deployed with the 101st Airborne Division. He fought in the Battle of Najaf, Iraq, where armed forces seized the city to root out Saddam Hussein loyalists. He then went on to fight in Mosul to do the same.

In 2004, he returned from war to find himself tracked into law enforcement jobs. “I was trading in my military armor for a police vest,” said Krulder, who saw the possibility of his post-traumatic stress disorder flare up in his police job at the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office, which encompasses the Daytona Beach, Fla., area.

“I got out before I got into trouble,” he said from his firm’s Wall Street trading-floor office in lower Manhattan, where he’s now an assistant vice president.

Krulder left law enforcement to manage a California factory, where he was later laid off. His family went to Illinois to be with his in-laws while he went to look for work in New York.

The Northport VA Medical Center put in him contact with Drexel Hamilton. Krulder said: “I interviewed. Answered the questions honestly and they saw the value in me.”

He was hired and received a round-trip ticket to see his family in Illinois. “This place saved my life.”

Krulder’s family has since joined him in New York, and they live in Massapequa.

Drexel Hamilton’s Cahill, who lost his son in the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks, said: “The only reason why we have not seen another 9/11 is because of these men and women who have been keeping the enemies fighting out there so that we can work here in New York City.”

“We owe them. They need our understanding and employment that will give them back their dignity, so they can support their families,” said Cahill, who, like the other senior Wall Street veterans at the firm, put in his own money to start the firm in 2008.

A version of this article appeared in print on August 7, 2013 in Newsday with the headline, “Wall Street firm finds jobs for war veterans.”

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