Some things never go as planned. Our guest-speaker recruiters do a terrific job of filling up the calendar with outstanding speakers, and usually all goes well, but every once in a while a speaker has to cancel or we have to reschedule a speaker for another reason. When that happens, it really is astounding that somehow, somewhere, our speaker recruiter can find someone to step in and do a terrific job, at the last minute.
Rotarian and PP John Bellino did just that and luckily had someone interesting in mind to come and talk to us about an organization that he was instrumental in starting.
David Zammitt is the chairman of Community Blueprint, a non-governmental organization that solely focuses on finding support for military veterans and their families after discharge from active duty and transitioning into civilian life. Zammitt said that records indicate that many of our servicemen and women entered the military at a very young age with limited education, and in many cases without any employment experience.
David Zammitt from Community Blueprint. PHOTO PROVIDED.
During their service they are trained for military jobs but that type of training often does not prepare them for re-entrance into the civilian job market. They have been thrust into war zones, have served more than four years of service with two deployment periods, as well as seen and experienced the brutality of war up, close and personal.
They are hardly prepared to just stop their combat ready mentality and re-enter their lives at home without some transitioning concerns and some adjustment problems. Although the government offers help for returning veterans there still is a gap in programming. The Community Blueprint program wants to find a way to help local leaders assess and improve their community's support for veterans, warriors, and their families.
Community Blueprint focuses on eight areas for transitioning: behavioral health, education, employment, family strength, financial and legal services, homelessness, reintegration, and volunteerism. Community involvement is key here, getting business leaders to join this effort to reintegrate our returning veterans back to active and healthy productive citizens. "We thank you for our service" is wonderful for the veterans to hear, but that is not enough. The best way we can thank them is to help them when they need us.
Originally, Community Blueprint set up three pilot programs to fine-tune the methodology for identifying and providing specific courses of action that community leaders could take in identifying a broad-range of resources available within their communities and setup individual programs for each veteran and his or her family to take advantage of.
The first pilot program 2011 was located in Valdosta, Ga., where Zammitt was living at the time, right outside of Moody Air Force Base. Joined by the local Military Officers Association of America chapter, this program was so effective that this program now has 53 Community sites.
Veterans themselves have identified areas of concern: family relationships, frequent irritability and anger, problems re-entering civilian life, post traumatic syndrome (PTS), alcohol and drugs, depression, and aggression. Government programs are helping, but their weak spot is in training and employment and that is where Community Blueprint can be the most helpful. They are trying to use community leadership in finding or initiating programs to fill in this gap and put our veterans back to work. Community Blueprint's goal is to coordinate services between the government, non-profits, and the community to help our veterans.
The Sanibel-Captiva Rotary Club meets at 7 a.m., every Friday morning at the Dunes Golf and Tennis Club on Sanibel Island. Guests are welcomed.