There has been a lot written about the Veterans Council of Indian River County (VCIRC), but perhaps you would like more in-depth reporting about what they exactly do?
To begin with, the VCIRC is a veteran’s organization like no other. According to Program Manager Captain Doy Demsick, “I’ve never seen anything like it in Florida.” Dr. Michael Weiss, president of the local chapter of Jewish War Veterans said “there’s nothing like it in the U.S.”
One reason is that VCIRC is an umbrella organization for 24 Indian River County veterans’ organizations and more than 40 non-veteran civic and business entities ranging from the U.S. Army Special Forces Assn., the Vietnam Veterans of America and Military Officers Assn. of America, to local veteran’s organizations such as the VFW and Vero Beach Veterans, to Indian River County (IRC) government agencies (e.g. IRC Sheriff’s Office), a local bank (Marine Bank and Trust), law firm (Rossway Swan) and a CPA (Kmetz, Nuttall, Elwell, Graham); and even the Vero Beach Municipal Airport.
Incorporated on February 6, 1987 VCIRC supports all IRC veterans through the collective support of these 60+ veterans’ organizations and non-veteran civic and business entities to raise awareness of veterans’ needs and of their contributions to society. Representatives of these organizations meet monthly to provide for the welfare of veterans.
Additionally, there are ten VCIRC board officers that Capt. Demsick says are not ceremonial officers, but work anywhere from 10 to 40 hours/week. “It is the passion of these leaders who come from within the ranks that drives our programs.”
Captain Doy Demsick
According to the American Community 2011 – 2015 Survey, there approximately 15,000 vets in IRC. This means our veteran community makes up approximately 13.1% of the population. This is well above the national average. The Veterans Administration estimated in 2014 there were 22 million military veterans in the U.S. population, representing 7.3 percent of all living Americans who have served in the military at some point in their lives
According to the same survey, there are approximately 1,100 1990 and after veterans in IRC, which would include veterans who served in Desert Storm, Afghanistan, Iraq.
About 20 younger generation veterans volunteer in the community organizing events and another 80 or so are waiting in the wings. This means VCIRC has contact with about 100 younger generation veterans, but most are so busy raising families and establishing themselves professionally that they cannot spend the extra time volunteering.
These younger veterans are going to be the ones responsible for veteran support in the coming years as our older veterans age out of their ability to support.
But those who do volunteer essentially make sure veterans “don’t fall through the cracks,” said Capt. Demsick. They “keep veterans of the street and keep their lights on.”
VCIRC boasts a unique Upward American Veterans Committee (UAV), which assists veterans and their families with money. Through grants and donations from within the Treasure Coast, since its inception in 2012 UAV has spent over $ 132,279.68 assisting veterans with financial assistance for, education, groceries, medical expenses, security deposits, rent, and utilities.
One of the 24 veteran organizations that provides an unusual level of support to the VCIRC is the Vietnam Veterans of Indian River County (VVIRC). The overall mission of VVIRC is to provide assistance to Vietnam and all veterans in their readjustment to life in the civilian community.
VVIRC provides immediate, interim, housing at their Veteran’s House for all veterans returning from service who have no home to go to. Here they are given assistance in their readjustment to civilian life.
The First Veteran House operated by the Vietnam Veterans of Indian River County
We should pay tribute to Tim Nightingale and Vic Diaz, co-founders of VVIRC for engineering a move beyond the initial house. The organization, which depends on private donations, recently bought three more lots to build duplexes for those veterans who need immediate, interim housing.
Additionally, VVIRC assists all veterans in Indian River County obtain the useful skills necessary to find gainful employment.
One specific program is to familiarize them with the workings of CNC machinery and Bob CAD-CAM Design Software, giving them the hands on experience to assist them in seeking employment of higher education.
creativemechanisms.com defines CNC machines as “electro-mechanical devices that manipulate machine shop tools using computer programming inputs. The name “CNC” actually stands for Computer Numerical Control and it represents one of two common methods (3D printing technology like SLA, SLS/SLM, and FDM being the other) to generate prototypes from a digital software file.
According to solidworks.com “BobCAD-CAM develops advanced CAD-CAM solutions that allow anyone, regardless of experience level, to manufacture parts with the power to change the world. So whether you’re a leading manufacturer or new to machining, BobCAD-CAM has the features, training, and support you need to produce more parts, faster and easier, for less.
Mill | Mill Turn | Lathe | Router | Plasma | Laser | Waterjet | Wire EDM | Artistic CAD | Nesting”
CNC Operators are in high demand in today’s industry. VVIRC’s goal is to provide veterans with the ability to operate, and or build this type of machinery, even if wheelchair bound.
This is one of the machines that they built. These are computerized, and operate on Mach 3 (Mach3 is one of the most popular CNC Controllers for both DIY and Industrial machines.)
“We will get a job for any veteran who wants a job,” says Capt. Demsick. “We do this by partnering with the CareerSource Research Coast,” which connects businesses to qualified talent and people to careers and training opportunities in Indian River, Martin and St. Lucie counties.
CareerSource Research Coast proudly supports veterans seeking employment. All Career Center Staff are trained to work with military veterans who receive Priority of Service in the areas of employment and training.
Some of the many services they offer veterans are:
- One-on-One counseling and assistance
- Job development and support
- Access to job banks, databases and labor market information
- Access to workshops: computer use, resume, cover letter, interview skills
- Determine eligibility for training programs
- On-the-Job Training (OJT) opportunities
- Employer recruiting events and job fairs
- Use of computers, fax, copiers and telephones
If a veteran without a job lives with his/her parents, may have a car, a phone and is has no significant barrier to employment, then Career Source prepares them for a job though its traditional channels.
But if a veteran has “a significant barrier to employment” they are referred to a dedicated “Disabled Veterans Outreach Program Specialist.”
Barriers to Employment
You have go meet certain conditions to have a significant barrier to employment. These include being homeless, having been incarcerated, if you are transitioning out of the military from another state, and/or if you are receiving SNAP benefits, which offers nutrition assistance to eligible, low-income individuals and families. Another is that you have been discharged honorably.
Using the services listed above, the Disabled Veterans Outreach Program Specialist, works with each veteran to overcome these barriers and make the veteran job ready.
Another service provided by CareerSource is to help veterans to understand their veterans benefits, such as those provided by the G.I. Bill, which includes dedicated payments of tuition and living expenses to attend high school, college or vocational/technical school, low-cost mortgages, low-interest loans to start a business, as well as one year of unemployment compensation.
VCIRC even partners with the local 19th District Veterans Treatment Court VTC whose goal is to assist the Veteran in avoiding unnecessary incarceration due to Post Traumatic Stress Disability (PTSD) and/or Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) as well as alcohol/drug related issues which may result because of these disabilities.
VTC provides a means by which Judicial Circuit Courts working in concert with the Veteran’s Administration (Veteran’s Justice Outreach Specialists), local law agencies and various Community/Veteran Support Groups can make a positive difference in helping the Veteran adjust from a military/ combat environment to daily community life and in so doing enabling the Veteran to become productive and positively directed within that community.
VCIRC also provides free transportation for eligible veterans to and from the VA Medical Center, West Palm Beach, Florida. The van makes one trip per day. The telephone number is: 772-226-1499
So if you thought you knew all about the Veterans Council of Indian River County, perhaps you just learned some more. It’s no wonder local president of the Jewish War Veterans president Dr. Michael Weiss said “there’s nothing like it in the U.S.”