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Panhandle Warrior Connection Hosts 3 Day Expo

Panhandle Warrior Connection

Career Source Okaloosa Walton is hosting the Panhandle Warrior Connection Expo and job fair this week. The Expo will be held at three locations across the region.  The event will focus on providing employment opportunities and services to veterans, transitioning military service members, and their families.

The Panhandle Warrior Connection is designed to help individuals who have served in the military in some facet, from World War II to the present, that’s either retired or has completed their time of service and are living in Florida’s Panhandle. Earnestine Carswell is an Air Force veteran and the Program Manager, " Our job is to go out and connect with them in any way possible. Are they feeling totally emerged in their community? Are they getting what they need to be self-sufficient and have the greatest access to their services?We advocate for them on that particular piece.  No matter what it might be, from volunteerism to they might need to get into VA healthcare. They may need to get their VA claim done. They may have housing concerns, whatever those things might be."

She says The Panhandle Warrior Expo is unique because of the variety of services being provided, "The Panhandle Warrior Expo is different than almost anything you’ve ever seen before. We are bringing our real services as close to a warrior and their family as possible. A warrior that’s interested in our claims benefit, they get an appointment to be able to talk to someone about their situation."

Carswell says the Expo offers such services, as on site counseling through their mobile vet center, disability claims, and access to their national partner Wounded Warrior and much more.  The Expo is spread out over three locations to fully service the Panhandle and to reach as many people as possible, "You go to our website you can sign up for one of the locations or you can come to all of them. Services are duplicated at each one of those locations. So, we’re going to be a University of West Florida’s main campus in the Argonaut Athletic Club from 9am to 3pm on February 10th. And then we’re going to be a Northwest Florida State College with a job fair as well as the Expo on February 11th. And then we’re going to be at the Dunfuniak Springs Community Center, and that will be February 12th. And, again all these times are from 9am to 3pm."

Panhandle Warrior Connection is a collaborative effort between Wounded Warrior Project, America’s Warrior Partnership, and community groups. Their goal is to help military personnel establish a cornerstone of support in the area. And, Carswell says she likes to think of the organization as a navigation machine, "We partner with over 100 different organizations. No organization is too small to serve a veteran, none is too large. The piece that is really unique is that we follow up and say how’d it go? Because we’ve made a relationship with that agency and we want that to go well. We want them to have a good experience, and when it’s going well, we come back and say hey wonderful."

Pre-registration is highly encouraged to ensure individualized appointments for the events which again will be held from 9am -3pm at University of West Florida’s main campus in the Argonaut Athletic Club on Tuesday, Feburary 10th, at Northwest Florida State College with a job fair as well as the Expo on Wednesday, February 11th, and at the  Defuniak Springs Community Center, Thursday, February 12th.

For more information about the Expo and to register go to PanhandleWarriorConnection.com