New Chamber of Commerce Busy Building Network to Connect Veterans to Services in Idaho

Workforce connection. Help with family and well-being. Education. Lodging. Resources for entrepreneurship.

These are the five pillars of Idaho Veterans Chamber of Commercea 501(c)3 nonprofit organization established in August 2020 that aims to connect serving and retired veterans to their Idaho communities.

This year alone, the Veterans Chamber has helped 147 service members connect with services such as job networking, IG invoice assistance, advice on VA home loans, and more, in the Gem State.

For Mindi Anderson, executive director and founder of the Idaho Veterans’ Chamber of Commerce, that work has only just begun.

How the Idaho Veterans’ Chamber of Commerce Helps Military Members and Spouses

Anderson, who recently retired from the US Air Force after 22 years of active duty, said she founded the chamber because of her own life experience.

Mini Anderson is the executive director and founder of the Idaho Veterans Chamber of Commerce. (Courtesy of the Idaho Veterans’ Chamber of Commerce)

“I’ve seen a lot of examples, I’ve seen a lot of articles and a lot of research that talks about how the military, when they separate or retire from the military, lose some of their identity because they don’t have that affiliation,” she said. “So we’re going through this identity crisis.”

Veterans should never feel disconnected from the resources they have rightfully earned, she said.

Jessica Koefod, Thivent’s financial adviser who also sits on the chamber’s board, agrees.

Herself a 14-year Air Force veteran, Koefod said, while the military moves frequently to be stationed around the country — and around the world — it can be difficult for veterans to know who to serve. turn for help. Veterans and rangers may not know who to contact for things like internships, housing assistance, or how to financially support veteran-owned businesses because they may not have lived in Idaho long. , she said. It can also be difficult for spouses of veterans to land jobs on their own, based on their own skills and expertise.

They may feel like others have earned or deserve help before them, she added.

“What our business is really about is navigation services,” Koefod said. “There are a ton of organizations that serve veterans in a multitude of different capacities, but no one really knows how to access them. We want to be the centerpiece. Our mantra is ‘together is better.’

The chamber, which provides free memberships to any veteran, family member, and veteran resource organization, is financially supported by non-military memberships, sponsors, local businesses, and federal and state grants, including a $282,000 Workforce Development Council Innovation Grant and $150,000 Community Navigator Grant over two years for Small Business Administration.

A glance at the chamber’s website gives an idea of ​​the activity of the organizers and the extent of their network.

On July 21, for example, the chamber is hosting a workshop for service members and their spouses on how to get credit and alternative financing to start a business, as well as one-on-one business counseling.

Get morning headlines delivered to your inbox

At 9 a.m. on the third Thursday of each month, the chamber hosts a workshop for employers to learn more about the Department of Defense Skillbridge Internship Programthat connects soon-to-be-released service members to potential employment.

Past events include gateways to learning workshops, tax credit workshops, and workshops on how to build your online social network to land jobs.

Chamber launches inaugural gala to help keep memberships and services free for veterans

A new chamber event will help keep these resources free for service members and their families, as well as financially support another charity focused on Idaho veterans: The Military Order of the Purple HeartAnderson said.

The inaugural Military Heritage Gala will take place at 5 p.m. on August 6 at the Boise Center, 850 W. Front St. The event will feature a guest speaker who is a veteran, a live auction, dinner and a dance. Interested persons are encouraged to RSVP to Anderson at [email protected]

“The Military Heritage Gala is open to all Idahoans and the military community,” Anderson said. “The vision and goal is to create an event that brings the two communities together.”

Comments are closed.