Vocational rehab program sets people with disabilities up for future success

A near-fatal car crash left Kevin Greene paralyzed and with a traumatic brain injury that erased all memory of his prior life. At just 22 years old, he’d have to start a new one.

Thanks to a vocational training program at Hackensack Meridian Health JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute, he not only found a fresh start, but an opportunity for a bright future.

Bert Kormann, clinical manager of the institute’s vocational rehabilitation department, originally intended the program to give individuals with disabilities a training ground for high-demand jobs in the lab industry. But it has blossomed into much more, offering 15 weeks of classroom and hands-on lab training, as well as a two-week field internship, for individuals ranging in age from 18 to over 60 years old.

Since opening in 2007, the program has graduated more than a hundred students, setting them on a new career path as lab technicians, assistants and processors.

“It gave you a lot of insight as to how to think about an actual career, not just a job,” said Greene.

Upon completing the program, Greene landed a position working for an endocrinologist, and ever since, he’s been on the rise as a customer care and sales specialist at LabCorp in Raritan. The corporation has hired 30 graduates of the JFK Johnson program.

The program has six cycles each year; the next begins Sept. 9.