Tag Archives: omnitrans veterans

Coach Operator Mentors Troubled Youth

Dwaun Roberson served in the Army as an E4 Transportation Specialist. After he completed his service, he was surprised at how difficult it was to get a job back home. “When you’re in the military they tell you that, as a vet, it’s easy to get a job later. But that’s just not the case. I looked and looked and looked for jobs and just couldn’t get a foot in the door. Finally I saw a newspaper ad online for a coach operator position with Omnitrans. A buddy had told me it was hard to get a job there, so I didn’t have high hopes. But I applied anyway, tested, did the interview and have been working here since August.”

Dwaun enjoys the variety that driving provides. “I love it. The passengers you deal with are all different, each has their own personality. Your days are never the same. It helps me stay on my toes and keeps me sharp. “

Although working transportation for the public sector is a little different for Dwaun, he finds there are still many similarities. Safety, he points out, is always a big priority. He feels the training he received in the army well equips him for the constant multitasking involved in his day-to-day work at Omnitrans. “I am trained to be very aware, to know what’s going on around me at all times. At any given time you need to be alert to the road, traffic, animals, people, your vehicle and the passengers on board.”

Eventually Dwaun hopes to get a job in law enforcement and has a particular interest in helping to make a difference in the lives of troubled kids, a group he understands very well. “I grew up as a foster kid,” he says frankly. “My mom was on drugs, my dad drank and wasn’t around. I slept in parks when I was in middle school, surrounded by gangs and everything you can think of. But somehow I never got involved in that stuff and managed to do the right thing. Prayer and music saved me. I’ve been in the music business since I was 7- or 8-years-old. I got involved with a well-known youth choir in LA called Soldiers on Soul Patrol, and we performed for Governor Gray Davis and Mayor Villaraigosa and others. I even toured with Sheila E and Patti LaBelle. I surrounded myself with older, positive people and allowed myself to be led in a positive direction. It gave me focus.”

It’s this kind of mentorship he likes to share with other kids. Before he was laid off, Dwaun worked for security for about 7 months at Perris High School. “I deliberately chose a position where I could be near kids in the worst situations. My goal was to get involved with them, to talk with them, to try to get them to open up and turn their lives around. And I did. These kids told me things they would never tell administration or anyone else, and I’d listen. Sometimes they were worried because they knew I’d have to report something. But they also knew I was acting to make things better for them.”

His message with each kid was always the same. “You can’t blame other people for your actions. You are responsible for what you do. If you blame your mom, your dad, your friends or others you will never get out. You choose what direction you want for yourself and your family. Allow yourself to be led in a positive direction. It’s choice–a mindset.”

– Juno Kughler Carlson

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Email Juno Kughler Carlson at  juno.carlson@omnitrans.org

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Diane Caldera, Air Force Active Reserve

Diane Caldera began working for Omnitrans in 2005 as a coach operator. Six months later she became an HR clerk then later moved into Operations to work as a field supervisor. Now she is an assistant transportation manager who supervises, mentors and helps groom others to achieve their goals.

Diane has also served in the Air Force for the past 29 years and is currently a Major in the Active Reserve. Her goal is to reach the 30 year mark and attain the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.

“I enlisted in the Air force when I was 21-years old, after completing two years at a junior college. Back in high school I had been a jock, but in those days there weren’t a lot of opportunities for women in professional sports. I knew I needed to develop skills, so I decided to join the Air Force to learn how to type,” laughed Diane. “I figured if I could learn to type, I would always be able get a clerical job.”

She spent the next four years as an active duty admin then entered the reserve. She became a flyer, working as a loadmaster on a huge 141 cargo plane. “There were not many women in that position in the late 80s, so I was something of a pioneer. I interviewed with three different flying squadrons and one of them agreed to take me on. I was responsible for the weight and balance of the aircraft, for the passengers we carried and the upload, download and security of our cargo. We transported everything from people to tractors, trucks, trailers and disassembled aircraft. I loved flying. We worked hard and for very long hours, but it was worth every minute.”

“The Air Force taught me a lot about time management,” Diane continues. “I’m currently on a medical flying mission where our nurses and technical crews actually fly and provide care on board the aircraft. My job is to handle the scheduling of the mission and to plan the details from beginning to end. How many nurses and technicians do we need? Do they have all their required training? How long is the mission? How far do they go? What lodging is available for the crew? What logistics are involved in loading and unloading the cargo? There are so many things that have to be taken into consideration for the successful completion of a mission. It’s the same with war games. You’re getting bombed and have to evacuate. You’ve lost communication. What are you going to do? You learn to forecast and make decisions under pressure.”

Because of her Air Force training, Diane pays close attention when job applicants list military service on their resume. She knows that those people tend to be process-oriented with strong organizational and project management skills. “They bring a lot to the table,” she says. “Because they tend to be very efficient and understand the broader picture, they often develop great ideas for streamlining processes that help us grow as an agency.”

Diane encourages everyone to go into the military for four years. “Especially the flying units, because I know how much fun I had. You’re able to see so many things and experience so much history. I’ve been to Hiroshima in Japan and saw where the A bomb was dropped. I learned to water ski and jet-ski in Wake Island in the Pacific. Europe is a beautiful country, so green and filled with historic old castles. I’ve seen the Pyramids in Egypt and the underground bazaars in Turkey. I’ve even been to Honduras during hurricane relief. I’ve seen the very, very poor as well as the unbelievably wealthy. People’s circumstances can be so vastly different. It reminds you how important it is to walk in someone else’s shoes so you can better understand their perspective. It’s a good lesson.”

In October 1997, Diane became part of the first all-female crew to fly a 141 cargo plane at the dedication of the Women’s Memorial Museum in Arlington Cemetery. The crew did a fly-by presentation and were honored on stage in front of 30,000 people. Their picture hangs in the museum to this day.

– Juno Kughler Carlson

Do you like this story and want to use it for your blog or newsletter? All our stories may be freely re-posted and shared with others!

Do you have a great Omnitrans story to share? Let us know!
Email Juno Kughler Carlson at  juno.carlson@omnitrans.org