By Michael Bacos
CHICAGO — The 2015 Welcome Home Warrior Summit took place at the UIC Pavilion on Saturday.
The event was designed to help bridge the gap between military and civilian life for veterans transitioning out of the service. Government offices, employment services and universities were on hand to give veterans the resources they need to create successful post-military lives.
Army veteran James J. Flagg created the Warrior Summit Coalition after his own frustrations with the Veterans Administration system while attending the University of Illinois-Chicago.
“In a six months timeframe, we created a task force at UIC’s campus that centralized all services for military vets,” Flagg said.
It is that philosophy that led to the creation of the Welcome Home Warrior Summit.
Government agencies including Gov. Bruce Rauner’s office and the Cook County Recorder of Deeds were present to educate veterans of their state benefits. Non-profit organizations were also there to give veterans a way to continue serving after the military. When some veterans leave the service, they may feel a loss of purpose.
Organizations like The Mission Continues team veterans and the communities to tackle various projects together. This way, veterans feels integrated within a community while fulfilling their desire to serve a greater good.
Veterans still face a tough time with post-military life, especially when interacting with other civilians.
“The customs that we’re so used to while in the service, you have to get that mentality out of your head,” Marine vet John Aranda said. “The way we interacted with each other in the military is something we can’t do in the civilian world.”