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In most any situation or circumstance, the people best qualified to help others are those who have been through the same or very similar situations or circumstances. That’s why Leslie Murphy, a disabled veteran of the United States Marine Corps, founded the Carolina Veterans Commission, a non-profit organization based in Lancaster.
According to a recent public service announcement put out by the organization, the mission of the CVC is for veterans to support veterans and help combat some of the “glaring ills” that cause veterans to “fall through the cracks” once they have completed their military service.
“A lot of times, it isn’t really made clear to a veteran all of the benefits that they really have access to,” Murphy said. “That’s where we come in. We want to educate these veterans on services available to them that will help them in all areas. One of the most important things we can provide is information, and we want to be a resource to all veterans.”
CVC will support existing veteran services and, according to the announcement, augment and create new services through program implementation. CVC has five key components on its roster staffed by volunteers. One component is the Veteran’s Self-Management Benefit Education Program, which is training designed to assist veterans in becoming their own advocates for benefits and services. Another program is ABLE (A Better Living Environment), which is a continuum care homeless program. CVC also offers an AIDD (Attack In a Different Direction) Substance Recovery program; a healthcare program entitled AM/PM (Active Management/Preventative Management – 24 hour care); and a family-reuniting based program entitled “Camp Veteran for Kids.”
“One of the most important things about this organization is that it is our intention to be completely transparent,” he said. “We definitely want the community – and community leaders – to know exactly what we’re doing so awareness of our programs can reach the highest levels. Ultimately, we want to become a best practice model in North and South Carolina for veterans. We want to be the type of organization that lets everyone see what we do, so people will see that we do what we say we will do.”
The outreach of the organization isn’t limited to those who have already served their country. CVC is always on the lookout for ways to help active duty personnel. A chance encounter a few months ago led to an opportunity to do just that.
“I was at the Employment Security Commission and started a conversation with a guy who happened to be a member of the 178th Engineering Battalion which was deployed to Afghanistan,” Murphy said. “When he told me they were shipping out, I immediately told him to let us know if there was anything we could do for them while they were over there.”
In the course of exchanging emails, Murphy said the soldier sent him a list of some items that the battalion was really in need of, and Murphy said CVC wasted no time in putting some boxes together.
“The thing about sending stuff to our troops overseas is that you have to move quickly,” he said. “You can’t wait until you have a tremendous amount of money or things to send. You do what you can as quickly as you can; otherwise, by the time you send it, they’re on their way home.”
By using the organization’s Facebook page, Murphy said they were able to gather enough resources to put together 19 boxes to send to the unit, called “Pieces of Home”, which included the asked-for items such as athletic socks, Robitussin, Snickers bars, Q-tips and ramen noodles. Volunteers put the boxes together at the Buford Fire Department on Sept. 15 and were mailed out to the unit on Wednesday.
“Providing services for our veterans and active duty military personnel is one of the most important things we can do, and it should be a top priority,” he said. “Being a disabled veteran, I know what they are feeling and thinking, and I want to make every resource available to them that I possibly can. I want them to know that it’s okay to ask for help. There was a time I wouldn’t ask for help, but now, I’m not too embarrassed or proud to do it. We are interested in helping our own to eradicate some of the negatives that are associated with military men and women who serve our country with honor and dignity only to come home and find themselves caught up in veteran related crimes, homelessness and substance abuse.”
“We aren’t pointing a finger at anyone or at any one thing,” said CVC secretary Willie Fuller. “We just believe that veterans helping veterans will give us a window view that sometimes gets lost in bureaucracies.”
“I’ve had my share of bureaucracies that Willie speaks of, and I would not want anyone to have to go through what my family and I went through,” Murphy added.
For more information, please find Carolina Veterans Commission on Facebook or call Murphy at (877) 474-2552.
To volunteer or refer a veteran, please call Murphy, secretary Willie Fuller at (803) 608-0416, parliamentarian Randolph Brooks, Jr. at (803) 420-2458 or member Cedric Thompson at (803) 415-9448. To make a tax-exempt donation contact treasurer Lynda Burke at (803) 287-5930. CVC may be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.