Charity Helps Veterans Find Their Purpose After Military
Photo by Guillermo Sevilla
Life after the military can be difficult for military personnel to find a new purpose after their military career.
For Mike Andela, a Marine Corps veteran, it took the help of Semper Fi and the Americas Fund to find a way to put his talents to work.
âHe’s incredibly good, but he was looking for something that he could invest that talent in that could make him some money and give him a purpose to serve the community,â said Casey Fisher, an apprenticeship program manager. with the fund.
Mike Andela spent 16 years in the Marine Corps, including touring the Middle East as part of an explosive ordnance disposal unit. He suffered multiple injuries from explosives.
âI had an IED behind me. It was about 100 to 110 pounds of explosives. I was probably about 10 meters from that on foot, âAndela said. “It hurt a lot too.”
But a final concussion in 2016 forced Andela to return home. He eventually had to take medical retirement in 2018.
âI left Kuwait and Iraq that year quite angry, just defeated,â he said. “It’s like you’ve taken away one of my main goals in life.”
Andela had to find a new purpose in life but didn’t know where to start after identifying as Marine for so long.
âPeople look at you as Superman. What you do, how you do it and when you don’t have itâ¦ it’s hard to get out of it, âhe said.
His injuries caused him severe migraines and disorientation. This prevented him from devoting 40 hours a week to an employer.
âI was afraid of ‘How am I going to support my family’ because the Marine Corps retirement doesn’t pay all the bills,â Andela said. âIt’s not like everyone thinks, you’re going to come out, youâ you’re going to retire and you’ll be fine. “
This is a situation often experienced by retiring service members and is what Semper Fi and Americas Fund are focused on.
âWe see a lot of veterans looking for something tangible, something tangible for their lives and tools they can use for their recovery,â said Casey Fisher, senior program director. learning of Semper Fi and the Americas Fund.
The programs offered by the fund help service members find a new goal after service.
This is where the idea for Coastal Sign Company was born.
âMy wife actually came up with the idea for Coastal Sign Company because it was a workshop, not just something we sell,â Andela said. âWhere people come to a workshop and start with a pile of wood like you see here and they end up with their own, something that they created, something that they personalize, make, paint and bring back to the House.
Andela operates the workshop with his wife out of their garage. Semper Fi and America’s Fund helped Andela with all the details on starting the business and some funding.
âThey’ll tailor your business plan based on what you want, what you can do, and what you want your business to do,â he said.
Funding for Semper Fi and the Americas Fund comes primarily from one-time donations and some grants. They have helped over 30,000 families across the country.
Their mission is to support wounded, ill or injured veterans and their families in all branches of the military.
âWe have programs that range from a sports program where you can play golf, learn to ride a bike,â Fisher said. âWe have an equestrian program, where we train the service members to ride horses and get to the point where they can do cattle, which is one of our biggest programs. And then there’s the program in which I’m in where we’ll help veterans figure out what they want to do after the military. ”
Semper Fi and Americas Fund will be holding a virtual auction of the fund’s program products until May 3.
âThese things are cool,â Fisher said. “These are handmade products by American veterans who have served our country and give us the freedoms we have to buy products like this, so let’s keep them in the United States and buy from these guys.”
All proceeds will go to veterans assistance programs through the fund.
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