Five years ago, Damien Nepata’s army career was cut short when Scorpion tank overturned and left him with burns to 40 percent of his body. After the accident, he faced three years of surgery, and was finally discharged from the Army in 1996.
In 1997, the doctors advised Nepata, who was living in Taupo at the time, that no further surgery was required Ñ they had done all that they could. But Nepata’s body was still reacting to the severity of the burns Ñ he had problems with his joints and his flexibility was not as good as it had been. When all the surgery came to an end, Nepata knew it was time to look at getting job. “Until then I couldn’t seriously look for work, as I kept getting called away for surgery,” he says.
“But I always knew I couldn’t sit on my bum for the rest of my life. I was just waiting for clearance from the doctors.”
When that clearance finally came, Nepata’s ACC case manager referred him to Workbridge in Napier. “They were pretty on to it,” he says, “and soon they’d got in touch with Cyril Wilson, the Napier Collector of Customs.”
Workbridge worked with Wilson to ensure Nepata got the relevant training at Napier Customs, and also looked for long term job opportunities for him. After eight months, Workbridge found position for him in cargo examinations with NZ Customs in Auckland. The Workbridge team helped Nepata secure the position of inspections officer and they still maintain contact to ensure everything is working out.
By Grant Aldridge, Workbridge at work.
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