Showing they careHelping veterans transition to civilian life
Midwest Military Outreach (MMO) is providing services to veterans that will help them transition to a civilian life after they have served our country.
MMO is housed in Cedar Rapids in Veterans Memorial Building since last June but serves veteran’s throughout the Midwest.
MMO Vice President John D. Mikelson, who lives near Columbus Junction, said it is important to assist veterans who need assistance with finding jobs, homes, or connecting with local services.
“Sometimes it’s simple things like do they know that Sue Rich here in Washington County can help them get their 214 or get their tax breaks as a homeowner?” Mikelson said. “Or even get ‘veteran’ written on their license plates? If they’ve not met Sue, we can make that happen.”
Mikelson is a veteran himself and said this helps when he is speaking with a veteran who is seeking help. MMO tries to match up the local services available in the area with what veterans specific needs.
“I like to tailor the package for the individual,” he said. “I’m a former recruiter and understand the different job skills a veteran possesses.”
Another project MMO is doing is providing homeless veterans with cell phones.
“One of the projects right now is we have a number of cell phones through an agreement with Sprint that veterans who are unemployed or homeless can borrow for a couple of months until they can afford their own phone,” Mikelson said. “But when you’re out looking for a job it’s much better if an employer calls you back on your number instead leaving you a message at the emergency shelter. This allows the veteran to retain a sense of individuality and pride.”
Sometimes it’s the veterans’ sense of being able to provide for themselves that prevents them for asking for help, Mikelson said.
“As service members they’ve been trained to be self-sufficient and be the person to come to for help so to turn around and ask for help is a foreign concept,” Mikelson said. “They know they can make it. That’s why veterans become higher in the homeless population because we’ve trained them for it. Some of these conditions the homeless vets live in are better than some of the combat zones like Fallujah, and Hellman Province.”
One thing Mikelson does to help is with highlighting what skills a veteran gains from serving our country. He gave the example of squad leader. A squad leader oversees troops with their everyday activity, health care, payroll, with specific deadlines, which is the same type of planning a project manager does.
“It’s not just pointing weapons and breaking things,” Mikelson said. “They really do have transferable skills that they don’t always think about.”
MMO also takes clothing donations and gives them to veterans who are homeless, looking for jobs, and who don’t have the means to buy a new suit, or are just in need. Kennedy Insurance is the local drop off site for clothing donations.