Assisting veterans, military members, and their families.
A few of our many important service efforts include: work to establish, grow, support, and expand veterans court programs (for which we were recognized locally with a Distinguished Service award from the Sarasota County Bar Association); numerous activities aiding and supporting area homeless veterans; a charitable hospitalized veterans donation program; supporting the families of veterans with long-term hospitalizations; collaborating to host veteran-focused job fairs; patriotic and community engagement programs; and so much more.
In addition to sustaining our many active, albeit relatively informal programs and activities, we are now focusing on the creation of two important projects to help meet our veterans’ unmet needs: a capacity-building program to match service dogs with veterans afflicted with mental health and/or brain injury issues; and a broad-based effort to empower and assist women veterans through a sustainable, annual women veterans conference aimed as empowerment and fostering a strengthened women veterans community.
Primary Organization Category
Public & Societal Benefit / Military/Veterans’ Organizations
Secondary Organization Category
Community Improvement, Capacity Building / Community Improvement, Capacity Building N.E.C.
Tertiary Organization Category
Crime & Legal – Related / Rehabilitation Services for Offenders
Geographic Area Served
FL- ManateeFL- SarasotaFlorida Veterans for Common Sense Fund serves principally Sarasota and Manatee Counties.
- Service Dogs for Veterans – capacity building program development; Estimated initial need: $3,500 for first dog-veteran placement plus capacity building; estimated $3,000 per dog-veteran placement thereafter; 2013-14 goal of $9,500 for 3 dog-veteran placements.
- Florida Women Veterans Conference – capacity building, empowerment-focused outreach and integration focus. Estimated need: $5,000-10,000. Initial seed grant sought for domino-effect fundraising effort: $2,500.
- Formalization of strategic and other planning into concise but viable plans; formalization of program structures, affiliations, memoranda of understanding and agreement. Estimated need: Primarily pro bono (albeit substantial and substantive) volunteer service from leaders, members, and partners.
- Eventual goal of having a part-time staff person to assist with event coordination, administration.
This organization does not currently have any paid full-time or part-time staff members, including a CEO/Executive Director. See the “Statement from the Board Chair/President”.
Board Chair Statement
Florida Veterans for Common Sense came into being in 2003, when three Vietnam veteran lawyers from Sarasota became concerned regarding the buildup to a sustained new war in Iraq. Initially, they had a desire to publicly engage those concerns, in keeping with U.S. Revolutionary War patriot and “Common Sense” author Thomas Paine.
However, following the ultimate March 2003 U.S. invasion into Iraq, their concerns quickly evolved into not just engaging in public policy advocacy, but in caring for the returning veterans of the war, including those left wounded physically, psychologically, and morally.
None of the core founders of Florida Veterans for Common Sense could have predicted that their small, heated, round-table discussions would evolve into an extremely active, community-based membership organization deeply engaged in an array of advocacy and service projects aimed at helping other veterans.
In short, over the last decade our growing membership has coalesced not just around regular camaraderie-building meetings and discussions featuring community leaders, authors, and other engaging speakers, but perhaps more importantly around shared values of helping our fellow veterans however we can and speaking up and out on issues that matter.
As we have grown and evolved, our community involvement has deepened and our advocacy focus has broadened. In late 2011, we took a major new step forward with the creation of the Veterans for Common Sense Fund, a new 501(c)(3) charitable arm aimed at creating sustainable programs to help meet unmet and emerging needs of our area’s veterans. The organization was created out of an inactive but existing 501(c)(3), titled Veterans Battle Buddy Inc., which dramatically aided in fulfilling our goal of creating this new charitable arm
We are now engaged in the work of taking our highly active, longstanding, deeply committed community service efforts to new levels with the Florida Veterans for Common Sense Fund, including channeling charitable funding into solidified and sustainable new partnerships with area organizations.
We are energized by our expanding role aiding and supporting our community. We look forward to working closely with the philanthropic community in helping us help our fellow veterans.
-Gene Jones, President, Florida Veterans for Common Sense Inc. & Florida Veterans for Common Sense Fund Inc.