HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - Six years ago, an organization was born right here in Huntsville that is touching lives across the country.
Still Serving Veterans has helped our men and women who have served our nation in 25 states. Now, that number could eventuall double to help those who have served and those who are coming home from war.
"A critical thing for veterans is to be able to transition from the military into their post military communities, lives and new careers," said Will Webb, President of Still Serving Veterans.
Webb, a retired Army Colonel, had a new mission when he co-founded Still Serving Veterans in 2006. The goal is to help veterans move from military to civilian life. Last year alone, SSV helped more than 130 vets find work.
"It's tough to keep track of the emotional and psychological assistance we're able to give to our veterans through counseling, but we do track the benefits and services that are new that we are able to secure for them and the new salaries that we've been able to secure for them and last year, that totaled $9.2 million," said Webb.
For 2012, SSV has helped more than 140 former servicemen and women so far. Since starting counseling services in 2007, SSV has really given Huntsville's economy a big boost.
"We've been able to bring back generally to this community over $77 million in new salaries, benefits and services," said Webb. "So it's a win, win, win."
It's that kind of success that has gotten the attention of state and national leaders.
"The important thing with our mission is to serve as many veterans as possible. We want to be the change for the quality of life they deserve," said Sheila McFerran, Still Serving Veterans' Director of Program Development. "So whether we do it statewide or national, our goal again is serve as many as possible."
Earlier this year, Still Serving Veterans was recognized as one of 15 organizations across the nation to be a community blueprint as a one-stop source for all veterans services.
"They're looking at our model and they're like, we want to see you do this statewide and then we want to have a Still Serving Veterans in every state throughout the United States," said McFerran.
If SSV chapters can be established in Alabama's largest cities and they see the kind of success seen here, Huntsville could be in the national spotlight as a model for serving veterans across the country. But that begins with baby steps in Alabama.
"We have the secret sauce because of all of our staff being veterans and being able to have that network working with the businesses," said McFerran. "So we want to be able to chapterize this model and show the success throughout the state of Alabama."
That's a big task, though.
"It's a very big responsibility, but you know, we have all the support and Governor Bentley has just written a commendation for Still Serving Veterans as a result of all of this national news of success that he's hearing about in Montgomery," said McFerran. "And he wants the state of Alabama and a lot of these veterans organizations to see, this is where you're going to get the help, where you're going to get the jobs and where you're going to get the support for you and your families."
And for those who work so hard daily at SSV helping veterans and their families, that would be mission accomplished.