Alabama Veteran, a nonprofit that strives to connect Alabama veterans and help them transition to civilian life, is hosting a large annual fundraising event at the Hyatt Regency Birmingham – The Wynfrey Hotel, on Saturday, Aug. 13.
“The awareness, the funds raised and the community involvement is what generates not only the revenue but also the awareness of what Alabama Veteran does,” said Alan Cook, co-chair of the event, and original member of the organization’s board of directors.
And what Alabama Veteran does is far-reaching for veterans in the state. The organization connects veterans through social, fitness and strong-bonded events and helps them stay aware of the resources and benefits available to them. They have events such as hunting, fishing, excursions, retreats, golf tournaments and fundraisers.
“Once they transition out, it’s sort of like they’re lost in the sauce,” said Cook. “They don’t have a firm understanding of what’s the next steps. So, what we do is provide the platform so that way we can be the conduit.”
Cook, a Marine veteran, knows all too well the challenges of the transition to civilian life. He has become an example of what can be, although he is humble about his own experiences.
“I say that my story is a success,” said Cook. “I don’t ever tell anybody, and I don’t broadcast it.”
Many times, veterans, young and old, are unaware of the resources available to them. Alabama Veteran is a “one-stop shop” for them to be connected to benefits and opportunities.
The success that Cook has found, he credits to Alabama Veteran for helping him succeed in life and in his profession.
“I would call myself a success story,” said Cook. “I have navigated the military to civilian transition … I utilized the resources that Alabama Veteran had.”
Cook said when he moved to Alabama from North Carolina, he had to take an $80,000 pay cut and start over. But now, he is a shining example of hope for all veterans. He is the director of IT at UAB’s Comprehensive Cancer Center, and he has his own IT company. Cook said he found out about the UAB position at a job fair with Alabama Veteran. He said he was also helped by the organization when he decided to start his own business.
“That’s why I’ve been so engrained in wanting to give those same resources to other veterans, that way they can be successful after they leave the military,” Cook added. "... That's why I am so passionate about it."
Saturday’s event is themed “Casino Night” and will include $1,000 in gameplay, a plated dinner with dessert, dancing, a silent auction and a raffle.
Michael Rodriguez, an Army Special Ops veteran, will be the guest speaker at the event.
Rodriguez, a Green Beret, is described as “an intellectual acrobat prepared to take life and save it with an absolutely elite understanding of both destruction and curative battlefield methodologies.”
As a Special Forces Medical Sergeant, Rodriguez has become known as the finest first-response medical technician in the world. He is now taking his experiences and sharing them with others for encouragement.
Cocktail hour begins at 5:30 p.m. with dinner and games following. To purchase tickets, click here.
Alabama Veteran has assisted nearly 16,000 vets, military members and their families since 2017.
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