Maj. Gen. James Hartsell, USMC (Ret.), deputy director of the Florida Department of Veteran Affairs, addresses veterans groups.

Mission United Sarasota-Manatee, veterans groups hold symposium at USF Sarasota-Manatee

By: Rich Shopes

Posted: September 27, 2019

SARASOTA, Fla. (Sept. 27, 2019) – USF Sarasota-Manatee’s Military and Veterans Success Center is proud to support United Way Suncoast’s proposal to expand its Mission United program into Sarasota and Manatee counties to help military veterans achieve greater access to emergency services and other important resources.

United Way Suncoast and several veterans’ organizations who provide services in the region met at a symposium on Tuesday at the USFSM campus to discuss plans to offer local veterans improved access to housing, employment and other vital services.

Mission United is a United Way initiative that strives to coordinate community services for active military, veterans and their families, providing a single connection to a collaborative network of community partners. Visit to learn more.

In January 2018, United Way Suncoast launched Mission United Hillsborough County to offer a network of vital services to 93,000 Hillsborough County veterans and their families.

Now, that program is expanding into Southwest Florida with Mission United Sarasota-Manatee to serve 88,000 veterans and families locally. An advisory council has been established to oversee Mission United Sarasota-Manatee.

“The aim of the symposium was to bring veterans organizations together to introduce Mission United and to talk about the efforts being done to notify veterans about important services and resources available locally,” said USFSM Veteran Services Administrator Carlos Moreira, who serves on the Mission United Sarasota-Manatee Advisory Council

Stephen Moss

About 60 people attended the two-hour symposium, including Karen A. Holbrook, PhD, regional chancellor at USF Sarasota-Manatee, who welcomed the attendees, and Greg Smogard, PhD, assistant vice president of innovation and business development, who participated in a breakout discussion that focused on employment services.

The symposium included talks by: Rear Adm. Brian McCarthy, USN (Ret.), chairman of the Mission United Sarasota-Manatee Advisory Council; Maj. Gen. James Hartsell, USMC (Ret.), deputy director of the Florida Department of Veteran Affairs; Stephen Moss, founding chair of the Mission United Broward County Advisory Council; Mark Fetterman, program director of Mission United, United Way Suncoast; and Clara Reynolds, president and CEO of the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay.

“USFSM has been a longstanding supporter of our community of veterans and the student-veterans enrolled at the university,” McCarthy said. “USFSM not only says they are veteran-friendly, but actually walks the walk. We can always count on USFSM when a need arises.”

After the talks, attendees joined a breakout session of six Mission United Sarasota-Manatee “pillars,” or review committees: Housing Support, Employment Services, Education, Legal Assistance, Health and Financial Stability.

Moreira, who chairs the Education pillar, said that over the next five months Mission United Sarasota-Manatee will focus on establishing the organization’s infrastructure and goals.

The advisory council’s next meeting is scheduled Oct. 22 at United Way Suncoast’s Sarasota office. The council meets monthly.

“As USF continues to serve as one of the nation’s top veteran-friendly universities, we at USFSM also strive to provide assistance and support to our local veteran community,” Moreira said. “It was a tremendous honor to hold this event at USFSM and we are grateful to all the attendees, especially James Hartsell, the deputy director of the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs.”

For more information about USF Sarasota-Manatee, visit

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