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Mentors for Veterans

Compeer Rochester teamed up with the Veterans Outreach Center to create CompeerCORPS.

Compeer Rochester teamed up with the Veterans Outreach Center to create CompeerCORPS. It's a mentor program for veterans returning home.

The program acts as a matchmaker for veterans. Veterans who are established in the community help returning vets.

It's a big transition for veterans when they return home. Some adapt quickly and others struggle. Stacy Fogarty is the manager of CompeerCORPS, but she also served in the military.

"A veteran is a very stubborn type of person. We are very proud, we don't like to ask for help or even accept help, but for some reason, when they are being supported by another veteran, it's a lot easier for them cause that's what we are use to doing out there in the field," said Fogarty.

On Tuesday, Excellus BCBS gave $5,000 to help veterans.

"We recognize as the military downsizes, as the wars begin to wind down, there is going to be an influx of veterans coming back into our community and we want to make sure that there is both the infrastructure formal and informal to welcome them home," said Jim Redmond of Excellus BCBS.

Veteran, Pam Noveck, struggled when she returned home. With a rigid routine gone, she says she felt lost.

"You know what you need to do, you know how things are run, you don't question anything, because there really is no room to question anything, it simplifies things, so when you're on the outside world and you come back from all that, I think you kind of feel a sense of chaos for a little while," said Noveck, a mentee.

That's until mentor and fellow veteran, Jocey, came along. Even though the mentor, Jocey believes she learns just as much from Pam.

"Throughout your military career, you always have a battle buddy. The battle buddy's job is to take care of you and whatever assignment, whatever mission you are involved with, and returning to the civilian world, you don't necessarily have a battle buddy or certainly not a veteran who gets it," said Jocey Henderson.

Whether it's gardening, yoga on the beach or a simple conversation, each pair of vets make new social connections. Pam says Jocey continues to help her grow as a person and experience new things.

"I never in a million years would have thought about having a garden or remotely anything close to that because I never thought in the past that would be something I could do or that I would be good at it, and she opened it up to me and made it fun. She makes a lot of things fun," said Noveck.

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