Our idea began in a garage sometime around 2008-2009. It began like most. The desire and drive to change a problem. Also like most, our problem is specific to a group of people, veterans. That is, veterans with good and bad stories about individual experiences when transitioning from military life into the civilian world and coping with that change. Those problems are uniquely broad in general but yet, very specific to each veteran. We began to weave together our experiences and new knowledge of how to transition and help each other. So, with our experiences combined, we started using each other’s knowledge to help are closest veteran friends. As time passed our problems became smaller. Also during that time, we found many other disenfranchised veterans looking for advice, help, and something entirely unique to our population—comradery. Eventually, we were helping local veterans without evening knowing that we were already filling the mission we strive and fight for today. With all our initial efforts came progress, hope, and purpose. But still, there was something more we wanted to do. We wanted to be different.
In January 2015, we pulled the trigger. Our small team of five filed the appropriate paperwork, received our Federal tax exempt status 501(c)(3), and registered with the appropriate Florida state agencies that allow us to operate as a non-profit organization. Our mission was to make a local veteran group that is operated by a 100% volunteer board that would focus on using local resources to combat veteran issues in our local community. With the focus on fixing our back yard first we got straight to work. So, what does that mean?
There are many non-profit organizations that are nationally recognized and that are trying to serve the masses on a grander scale. Our mission is to build a system of local veterans aiming to solve local problems and to help the secondary generations that include the families and the civilian community. There are plenty of internal issues in our community to resolve. What we are saying is that us locally, can do a lot more instead of sending resources to national groups that may not have the opportunities to help the veterans that call Sarasota county home. This is our goal, mission, and purpose, to help provide resources and to bring resources into this county so that the veterans, their families, and the community can serve each other and our home. If we can build this blueprint, then maybe other local communities can see the effectiveness and power local veterans will serve their respective homes.
Today, our team consists of seven veterans. The founder is a Marine Corps combat engineer who was among the first boots on the ground in Iraq, 2003. The four other co-founders consist of three other Marines and a Coast Guard veteran. Since our inception in 2015, we have had the privilege to add three new members of the board of directors. Two Army veterans and an additional Marine veteran. All of us work on a 100% volunteer basis where the we take resources donated or raised locally and use those resources to help our local veterans or donate to veteran organizations that will specifically use those resources to help our local veterans. We have worked hard to become a network of doers and not talkers.