Calif. to launch veteran services portal


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Chris Raschki was a Marine sergeant during the Iraq invasion in 2003 providing security, coming under fire, and trying to locate Saddam Hussein.

"It came out later on that he was about five kilometers from where we were stationed for that day and a half and we didn't even know," said Raschki.

When Raschki returned home to Sonoma County six months later, he began noticing his post-traumatic stress.

"A lot of times I allow the stress in my life to build and build and build -- to the point where I can't handle it anymore. I have intrusive thoughts about Iraq constantly," said Raschki.

The former Marine sergeant realized he needed help.

"That's a big fight -- is trying to get the services. Where can I go to get this help? I have specialized needs," said Raschki.

Governor Schwarzenegger is making California the second state in the nation to launching a unique portal. The Network of Care for Veterans and Service Members is a one-stop shopping online community with information on all county, state, and federal programs for vets and service members. The portal shows them where to go locally to find mental health counseling, housing, jobs and advocates.

"If it's on a national Web site, a lot of people don't even know it exists. So the object is to be the bridge between lots of wonderful services out there and the veterans themselves," said Bruce Bronzan with Network of Care.

Bronzan is the co-founder of San Rafael-based Trilogy Integrated Resources. This joint venture among his company, California and its counties is three-years in the making. He says it comes at a critical time -- highlighted by the tragedy in Baghdad earlier this month, when Army Sergeant John Russell shot and killed five fellow service members at a counseling center.

"We're seeing sadly these terrifying problems coming back. People committing suicide, homicide, domestic violence, drug abuse -- it's a difficult problem. And we have to do a better job reaching out to them and caring for them when they come home," said Bronzan.

A unique feature of the site is a big database of local employers specifically looking to hire veterans with immediate openings. We found several jobs listed in the computer industry just in /*Foster City*/. There's also a social networking section.

Raschki's input went into designing the portal. He's now featured on the site, one that he hopes his fellow vets and service members will benefit from.

"This system is going to not only revolutionize the way veterans receive services, but the way the community looks at their veterans," said Raschki.

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