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'Boots to Suits' helps returning vets find their way

4:40 AM, Feb 24, 2012   |    comments
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It also made the transition to the civilian world a little more difficult.

"Just walking into a Walmart or a supermarket was overwhelming [at first]. Just to have those kinds of choices," the University of Colorado Denver senior said.

Today, he's on his way to graduating and finding a job in the civilian world. He's still worried about all of the choices that will undoubtedly come his way.

"It's hard to feel you belong coming from the military world and entering into the civilian world," he said.

It's with that in mind that has prompted CU Denver to start what it's calling "Boots to Suits," a program designed to ease the transition for hundreds of graduating veterans.

"It's designed to help our veterans as they move forward from the classroom to a career," CU Denver Chancellor Jerry Wartgow said.

There are more than 700 veterans attending the university right now. It's thought that number will triple over the course of the next three years.

"Boots to Suits" will, among other things, pair veterans with business leaders to help guide the veteran's decisions over the course of their senior year.

Heath's mentor is an Air Force veteran who also happens to be the CEO of RTL Networks in Denver. Richard Lewis met Heath for the first time this week. One of the first things Lewis told Heath is that his skills will be valuable in the world of business.

"I think you'll find that you have a lot about your personal story that they'll be interested in," Lewis told Heath. "[Veterans] are the kind of people you want in your company."

It's thought upwards of 200,000 men and women will be leaving active duty this year alone, making the need to assist during the transition period even more important.

"I think we have an obligation to honor their service and to support them as they make the transition back to civilian life," Bill Lindsay, president of Lockton Benefit Group in Denver, said.

For more on the program, visit www.ucdenver.edu/bootstosuits.

(KUSA-TV © 2012 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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