Volunteers help active duty veterans transition to civilian life

PALMER, Alaska (KTUU) - With Veterans Day just around the corner Alaskans are helping former active duty service members transition from military to civilian life.

Volunteers build the first permanent location for Connect Vets on Friday Nov. 8. (KTUU)

Robert Gordon is a former active duty veteran from Palmer. He helped found Connect Vets AK, a non-profit teaching vocational skills to veterans in that transitional period.

"Part of our mission for Connect Vets is to eliminate homelessness and unemployment," Gordon said. "Pretty much every veteran I know that came from JBER into our community has had to make a choice between putting food on the table, or putting tires on their car, in that first six to eight months of transition."

Gordon says the cost was too high to lease a space to get Connect Vets off the ground – so he refinanced his own home to build the non-profit’s first installment on his property.

“After praying, and talking with family and friends, and the board, I just decided it was the right thing to do,” he said.

Volunteers spent Friday afternoon putting the finishing touches on what will be Connect Vets' first permanent location. The shop will serve as a place for veterans to socialize, work on home and auto projects, and learn new skills.

"A lot of us have injuries, both mental and physical,” Gordon said. “So making a space -- a learning environment -- comfortable for them is very important."

One of several end goals for Connect Vets is to teach vocational courses. Veteran-owned businesses would provide teachers and materials, and potentially employment, for Alaska's veterans.

Click here to learn more about Connect Vets, or to donate to the cause.

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