Smith committed to the Marines in his senior year in high school and had a degree in criminal justice, which he received online from Park University in St. Louis while serving. He hoped to find a job in government or a support agency, but those plans were stymied by hiring freezes. Positions had become "uber competitive," he says, owed in large part to the higher number of veterans coming out after 9/11. By his own count, Smith filled out more than 250 job applications before humbly reaching out to friends.
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