|Special to the Village News|
Paul Gallaher photo.
A new nonprofit organization named Southwest Veterans’ Business Resource Center (SWVBRC) will hold its grand opening in Fallbrook on November 1. The purpose of the center is to encourage community support and provide resource information for veterans.
“Our interest at SWVBRC is to increase public awareness on how best to support our veterans,” said Albert Renteria, founder and CEO. “And our purpose is to increase the veterans’ awareness about benefits.”
At SWVBRC, there will be a business resource center where veterans can do research and communicate with career counselors. SWVBRC has a strategic alliance with other resource groups that can help with an array of issues, including benefits available to veterans. “This service center will be free for our veterans,” Renteria noted.
A unique system called the Fourteen Levels of Reintegration, created by Renteria, will be the cornerstone of SWVBRC. For those veterans actively seeking employment, this program can inspire the veteran to “Learn-and-Earn” a stipend amount of $2,080.
The completion of these 14 levels requires a total of 416 hours of study. The program helps veterans identify their work goals, has them network and then penetrates their knowledge and resources into their desired field.
“Whatever age or rank the veteran is, the fulfillment of their lives really doesn’t exist until they know what their purpose is,” said Renteria. And this unique program aids veterans in understanding this key question. “The reintegration program is our focus and the networking resource is the portal for our veterans.”
After each level is completed, a stipend amount is paid. Veterans can work at their own pace and receive valuable coaching from SWVBRC.
Renteria, who joined the Marine Corps at 17, spent 26 years in the military. He was highly involved in the Manpower Personnel Unit, an area familiar with benefit nuances.
Very few veterans, explained Renteria, are taking advantage of the benefits out there. If the level of awareness can be improved through a strong community effort, veterans can be pointed in the right direction. “We are going to empower the community to help us find those veterans and help bring them in here,” said Renteria.
Although 300 Veterans Affairs centers are scattered across the country, not all are readily available to veterans.
A sobering survey revealed that nationally one in four homeless individuals is a military veteran. “Something is wrong, because we have trained and skilled individuals [veterans],” Renteria said.
Taking care of veterans who have given Americans their freedom is a high priority at SWVBRC. Eradicating homelessness and empowering veterans is the mission.
“We need to be aware of our country, community and difference we can all make,” said Renteria, “and that is the power of change.”
Renteria’s purpose is to teach veterans and community the “trade.” This trade, he says, is freedom. “Freedom is a trade that we all work so hard to enjoy, preserve and maintain.”
The passion in starting this nonprofit organization came from Renteria’s childhood. “I was raised in the streets of Chicago, and in 1966, my front yard was the Chicago riots,” he said. “I know what it feels like ‘not to have.’”
Renteria learned opportunity was within his reach. He said that the Fallbrook community has a chance to help veterans since it will receive the first SWVBRC office. It is Renteria’s hope that these offices will expand nationwide.
The SWVBRC Fallbrook office is dedicated to Lt. Cmdr. Carol Grice, who broke through the male barriers of Marine Corps Mess Night in 1966. Grice, now 76, will be at the November 1 festivities.
The SWVBRC grand opening will be at 145 E. Fig Street, Fallbrook, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. with a special ceremony taking place from noon to 1 p.m. Congressman Bob Filner, House Committee Chairman on Veterans Affairs, will be present for the noontime ceremony.
Volunteers for both the grand opening and daily operations are encouraged to call (760) 468-1315 or visit www.swvbrc.org. Renteria is also the founder of Operation Interdependence, which can be found at www.oidelivers.org.