OC nonprofit helps with transition from military to civilian life

STANTON, Calif. (KABC) -- Jesse Acosta fought in Vietnam. In 2005, he was called up as a reservist, and the sergeant major was deployed to Iraq.

A year later, he was blinded in a mortar attack.

Erick Castro is also a combat veteran and survivor. He served as a sergeant in Iraq. In 2003, Castro lost his leg when his unit was ambushed.

But neither live with bitterness. When they came home, other vets helped them. Now, they want to return the favor.

Their nonprofit, based in Stanton, is called Thank A Vet Now, and they want to help with the transition from military to civilian life.

"It's our turn to reach out to the next generation and give them a helping hand," Castro said.

Acosta and Castro volunteer their time, finding businesses and vocational schools to provide training. They rely solely on donations.

They also offer something else that's invaluable.

"You can reach out and touch or talk to a fellow veteran that's been there," Castro said.

"Accepting who you are when you come home the way you do and moving forward is probably the hardest part. Once you cross that hurdle, you stand a real good chance in making it in life," Acosta said.

Now that their military lives are behind them, they say helping fellow vets is their new mission in life.

To learn more about the nonprofit, visit https://www.tavnow.org/.
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