Veteran organizations throughout the local community, and the Ocoee region, are in the process of forming a new program to provide assistance to veterans and their families.Michael MacDonald, …
Veteran organizations throughout the local community, and the Ocoee region, are in the process of forming a new program to provide assistance to veterans and their families.
Michael MacDonald, chairman of Vet-Com.org at the United Way of the Ocoee Region offices downtown, is coordinating the effort with assistance from multiple partners.
MacDonald's organization assists veterans in exploring business opportunities. He pointed out that other local organizations assist veterans with a number of other needs.
"What we're trying to do is to coordinate each of our missions beneath an umbrella of all assistance available to local and regional veterans and their families," MacDonald emphasized.
This effort evolved from an initiative by United Way's Jessica Derrick and Danielle Seals, a planned network to support veterans.
Following the initial launch, it was determined such an effort — called Mission United — would require the expertise of experienced veterans.
MacDonald added Mission United has continued under the direction of Payten Holcombe of Tennova and health care professional Robert Gibson.
This program is now called "Veterans Leading Veterans to Recovery," and meets from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on every other Thursday in the United Way conference room.
The meetings are free and available to any regional veteran, as well as their family members.
This organization is just one of the many partners associated with the plan for an Ocoee Regional Veterans Council of area assistance groups.
MacDonald said there may be other organizations (who deal with veterans) who may want to participate. If so, he said they can call Holcombe at 423-339-4352, or the united Way at 423-479-2020.
Among the partners already participating in the formation of this special council are:
• Veterans Court with Bob Donaghy;
• Donna Nunnelly with the U.S. Department of Labor (who assists veterans in finding jobs);
• Tony Eubanks with MASH (Mission Accomplished: Stable Housing), assisting veterans in finding affordable housing;
• MacDonald and Vet-Com.org; and
• The Bayview Riding Academy, and Cheryl Wright, who provides veterans with equine-assisted psychotherapy.
"What we're trying to do is to not duplicate services and assistance," said MacDonald.
He said the council being formed will be launching a website in March, which will provide a listing of veteran services, council meeting times, and other information. They are also working on a Facebook page.
"We want to see where everyone's specialities fall in line," he said, adding the assistance being sought by most veterans are usually food, shelter, housing, utilities and legal support.
"We want to be a traffic-control station for these needs," continued MacDonald. "We will measure our success one veteran at a time!"
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