Volunteer Florida launches VetSuccess initiative in Jacksonville

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Volunteer Florida, the state’s lead agency for volunteerism and national service, celebrates Veterans Day with a new program to provide direct support to about 300 Jacksonville-area veterans.

VetSuccess on Campus will use Volunteer Florida’s AmeriCorps members at colleges across Duval County to help veterans transition into civilian and academic life, achieve  success, and find jobs upon graduation.

Serving as sub-guarantor for the program will be Communities In Schools (CIS) of Jacksonville to provide resources, expertise, and infrastructure.

“We are thrilled to work with Communities In Schools of Jacksonville, a longtime Volunteer Florida grantee, to launch this new initiative,” said Florida Volunteer CEO Chester Spellman. “By putting AmeriCorps members to work to assist students who are Veterans, we are maximizing their abilities to excel on campus and successfully find a good job after graduation. This kind of partnership is what national service is all about.”

 “This collaborative program aligns with the services and support that Florida State College at Jacksonville currently provides through our Military and Veterans Service Center,” said Florida State College at Jacksonville President Dr. Cynthia A. Bioteau.  “Adding further to these unique supports will allow even greater success to our Veteran students, indeed a top priority for FSCJ.”

State Sen. Aaron Bean called the program a win for Florida businesses, which are eager to hire Veterans with an “unparalleled” work ethic and dedication.

“The best way to math Veterans with job opportunities is to ensure that Veterans on campus are given every tool to excel,” said the Fernandina Beach Republican. “This partnership will make that happen.”

State Rep. Jimmie Smith, an Army Veteran who also serves as Vice Chair of the House Veteran and Military Affairs Subcommittee also praised the new program. Smith played a key role in passage of the 2014 Florida G.I. Bill.

“Veterans returning home and transitioning to higher education can experience a number of challenges that can cause them to fall behind their peers,” Smith said, adding it is “an outstanding way to put national service to work for our nation’s heroes.”

Volunteer Florida is a quasi-governmental agency that provides volunteers and donations during disasters, as well as making funds available for educational foundations, nonprofits, and faith-based organizations. The group directs Florida-based AmeriCorps and National Service Programs. Volunteer Florida also oversees a number of events, such as the state’s national days of service, including September 11 and Martin Luther King, Jr., Day.

For more information, visit: www.volunteerflorida.org.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.