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January 9, 2013

Veterans group hosts services program Saturday

Local coalition hosts outreach program

GLOUCESTER — Veterans returning home have survived the horrors and brutality of war but often face even more complex social challenges when they integrate back into society.

The newly formed Global War on Terror Veterans Coalition aims to address and overcome some of those challenges, namely the high suicide and unemployment rates among young soldiers returning home.

For many, civilian life can be a difficult change after serving a tour of duty overseas, said Army Cpl. Sebastian Mutchler.

Mutchler, of Gloucester, served in the Army and has seen two active duty deployments, having first seen combat in Afghanistan in 2008. Now, he’s also working with Richard Barbato, the Gloucester veterans agent in the Office of Veterans Services for Gloucester to form the new coalition. And the organization is set to host an open house and services program this Saturday at the city’s Office of Veterans Services at 12 Emerson Ave., beginning at 10 a.m.

Mark Nestor, a member of several local veteran affairs groups and a Vietnam veteran, said the aim is to support veterans by showing them their options — something Vietnam veterans did not have enough access to when they arrived back home, he recalled.

“This coalition is by veterans, for veterans,” Nestor said.

Barbato added that employment and education aspects are the key issues the coalition helps to address. He said veterans returning home need to know there are others here to support them and there are a number of options in front of them.

Scheduled to participate in Saturday’s event are representatives from Salem State University, North Shore Community College, the Lowell regional veterans center, the state Department of Veterans Service, a local veterans employment representative from Lynn as well as other veteran advocates.

While the coalition is still in its early stages, Barbato said those involved hope to help out in anyway they can.

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