When Rex King moved to Martinez last year, the retired Navy firefighter started looking for a new opportunity.
"I'm a volunteer right now," said King, who is part of an expanded initiative to include military veterans in the Volunteers in Service to America program. "I feel the world is my oyster. This has opened up doors for me."
King started his one-year volunteer position with the CSRA Wounded Warrior Care Project in November.
"This is something President Obama instituted to do more for veterans and their families," said Joan Stoddard, the VISTA project supervisor for the United Way of the CSRA.
The United Way works with nonprofits to place VISTA participants. Stoddard said there are benefits for both VISTA and the nonprofit organization. Work force expenses are often sacrificed for programming needs. VISTA helps nonprofits by providing a volunteer work force.
Although a volunteer, a VISTA participant receives a biweekly stipend of $400. Other benefits include health care, child care and student loan forbearance during the service, and college tuition incentives.
With the CSRA Wounded Warrior Care Project, King is working on a mentoring project, which has been under development for about a year, said Laurie Ott, the project's executive director.
"Service members in transition have a lot of vocational needs. They had planned a career in the military. (After an injury), it's a case of 'What can I do now?' " Ott said.
King said he has learned a lot from Ott.
"The skill sets I have had to learn, every day, I pick up something from her," he said. "I watch her professionalism and dedication. It is just going to make me sharper. The communication and writing skills are helping me a lot."
Ott said her organization is looking for mentors. Call (706) 434-1707 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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