Candidate hopes to serve in Iraq

first_imgMONTEBELLO – What does a City Council candidate do after he lost an election and is waiting for his next chance to run? If he’s Montebello resident Johnny Verdugo, he volunteers for a tour of duty in Iraq. As the longshot in the Nov. 8 election, Verdugo surprised everyone by earning 10 percent of the vote, beating out three of the more heavily favored contestants. Now Verdugo is trying to land a job as an investigator with the U.S. Army as close to the front lines as he can get, he said. His explanation for wanting to place himself in such danger is an intense drive to “serve his country and community.” “I’ve got to do something while I wait for the elections,” Verdugo said. “But I only want to go \ if I can work in intelligence behind enemy lines. I want to have the same risk as everyone else does, but I want it to mean something to me.” At 37, Verdugo is not exactly a typical recruit. Sporting a sleek black Mercedes convertible, flashy suits and an expansive tattoo across his abdomen, Verdugo has worked as a California state peace officer since he was 21. He also owns a security company called Executive Private Security International, as well as various rental properties. Verdugo’s youth growing up in East Los Angeles would have suggested a different future had it not been for several key mentors and what he says is an innate sense of destiny. “I always knew I’d be that guy who came from nowhere to succeed,” Verdugo said. “But I failed a lot. My success is attributed to the numerous failures I’ve had.” Raised by his grandmother and mother after his parents divorced, Verdugo lived in a small roach-infested apartment with no central heating or air conditioning, he said. His mother worked cleaning houses and selling items at swap meets. By the age of 12, Verdugo inevitably began hanging around with gang members, although he is still hesitant to identify them as such. “Let’s just say I participated at a young age in rites of passage that entailed three other individuals fighting me at the same time – aka, `jumping me in,”‘ Verdugo said. But he said he was never around when the “bad stuff happened.” “Obviously I was in the middle of it, it was all around me,” Verdugo said. “But I was on the periphery. I’d see something coming down and I’d make myself scarce,” he said. After moving to Montebello, Verdugo flunked 10th grade at Montebello High School. He graduated at 18 after transferring to Vail High School, a continuation school. Soon after, he was taking computer classes at East Los Angeles College. Verdugo often speaks with childlike awe about finding himself as a candidate for political office. “Who would have thought a guy like me would be here, a city council candidate?” Sgt. 1st Class Steffen Maron, Verdugo’s recruiter at the Army Recruiting Office in Whittier, said officials at first were not sure what to make of Verdugo when he showed up to volunteer. They soon learned he was serious, however. “He wants to get involved in what’s going on in Iraq and Afghanistan … not for a political move. He’s a very down-to-earth guy,” Maron said. He said there presently are no jobs in the Army of the type Verdugo is seeking. But a spot could open up. Verdugo was 33 when both his parents and his grandmother died within 30 days of each other. His father had been ill, but his mother died of a heart attack, he said. “Before \ died, we talked,” he said. “She told me, `Run for office, Johnny.’ I said, `No, I’m not perfect.’ She said, `Who do you think you are? Great people were persecuted who did good. You can’t be exempt from pain and suffering.’ She wanted me to help people and make a difference in their lives. “I still haven’t put a gravestone on her grave yet because I’ll do it when I’m elected. `From your son, an elected official,’ it will say.” [email protected] (562) 698-0955, Ext. 3029 AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECasino Insider: Here’s a look at San Manuel’s new high limit rooms, Asian restaurant160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img

Capita sees 200 increase in engagement with health and wellbeing campaign

first_imgCapita achieved a 200% increase in employee engagement with its health and wellbeing campaign following a four-week engagement initiative.In November 2015, the organisation launched its Health and Body MOT campaign with the aim of engaging staff with their wellbeing and driving take up of the health screening available to them through the organisation’s flexible benefits programme.The campaign saw 882 employees actively sign up for ongoing communication and reminders around health and wellbeing, representing a 200% increase. Take up of the health screening benefit, provided by Bluecrest Wellness, increased by 17% from 382 to 446.The campaign included roadshow events that featured mini-checks and challenges, and demonstrations by Bluecrest Wellness. The health screenings were promoted on the organisation’s online benefits platform.The screenings include cancer checks, organ-function testing, diabetes checks, blood tests and associated screenings as well as a variety of fitness assessments. With a range of packages available to suit the diverse requirements of its 70,000-strong workforce, other benefits include a free 24/7 private GP helpline, and detailed health reports.Through the health screening provision, Capita aims to offer its staff affordable and accessible price points, as well as the convenience of undergoing screening at 1,700 mobile sites across the UK.Lee Gruskin (pictured), principle consultant, health management at Capita, said: “Because we are such a disparate [organisation] in terms of having offices all over the country, we needed somewhere that could effectively be on the doorstep of every single employee. We needed something that could be accessible from the north of Scotland to the south west of England.“[Employees have] said we are interested in our health and now we are able to access affordable health measures, we want to know what the next steps are. It’s great to see because if you only change one person’s thinking or you spot one illness that wouldn’t have been found, then it’s obviously worth it, because the tangible costs of someone going off sick or not looking after their health can be massive.“By putting those up front, preventative measures and some of the education around it [in place], we’ve been able to get people interested in health and see how actually the work place can help them and not be aloof and distant. A happy and healthy workforce is of much more benefit than someone who has to be off or having to replace them and the morale going down in the team and productivity dropping off.”last_img read more