By Jessica Tuggle
INDIAN RIVER COUNTY -- After a military service member has served overseas, transitioning back to civilian life can be challenging, and some organizations in Indian River County are hoping to help make those veterans find their footing faster.
The Veterans Council of Indian River County announced an outreach program specifically to help overseas veterans who are returning home to the U.S. with networking opportunities, said Marty Zickert, president of the Veterans Council.
According to the Veterans Council, one million servicemen and women will return from service overseas and more than 80,000 are expected to come to Florida.
A retired U.S. Air Force veteran himself, Mr. Zickert knows what it is like to come back from service and try to start "normal" life again. The outreach program will help connect veterans with organizations that support veteran's activities, as well as other areas of life, such as education.
"Many of these veterans have little if any civilian experience," Mr. Zickert said in a press release. "They have nonetheless volunteered to serve our country, often under extremely dangerous conditions. We have an obligation to make sure they find a proper and productive role in our community.
"The council feels duty-bound to ensure that takes place. We are asking all community organizations to join us in our efforts."
The Indian River County Chamber of Commerce has already begun working toward that goal with the Veterans Council, announcing the creation of a veterans business advisory committee to organize and provide specific business related resources, including training on how to find a job in the private sector.
Free business workshops will be available to returning veterans who have an interest in becoming entrepreneurs rather than be employed by a company. A volunteer mentor from the advisory committee, as well as a chamber membership will be available to help veterans kick-start their business plan.
"We are excited about the new program and hope in some way we are able to assist veterans returning to Indian River County. The Chamber has an excellent corps of active volunteers who, I'm sure, will embrace this new initiative," said Bill Penney, chairman of the chamber board of directors, in a press release.
"We have an important obligation to bring these young people to the starting line so they can begin their new lives as productively as possible. They have more than earned their rightful place in the community," Mr. Zickert said.
For more information about the Indian River County Chamber of Commerce, visit www.indianriverchamber.com.