After retiring from 22 years of military service, Jim Lorraine continues to serve his country.
"To me, it’s a duty to continue to serve," Lorraine said. "I don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t continue to serve."
He was raised in Clinton, N.Y., but now calls Aiken his home and enjoys playing golf at the Palmetto Golf Club off Berrie Road.
His work for veterans through America's Warrior Partnership stretches across the nation.
He served in the United States Air Force as a flight nurse with nine combat deployments including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Somalia, Honduras, El Salvador, Haiti, Kenya, Cambodia, Afghanistan and Iraq.
He retired as the deputy command surgeon for the United States Special Operations Command after 22 years of service.
However, Lorraine felt his call to service was just beginning.
The Air Force's three core values – "integrity first, service before self, and excellence in all we do" – would drive Lorraine to become the founding director of the United States Special Operations Command Care Coalition.
"On Friday, I walked in the door and went to the right to retire; and on Monday, I came back in and walked in the same door and went to the left and founded the Care Coalition," Lorraine recalled. "I had already been advocating for wounded or injured special operations forces as the deputy surgeon, and now it was more a formalized position focused on a large number."
Care Coalition, now the Warrior Care Program, started in 2005 with the task of finding all the wounded, ill or injured veterans from Sept. 11, 2001.
The coalition built relationships with these veterans and connected them to the resources they needed.
That process became one of the foundations for Lorraine's work in the present.
After leaving the Care Coalition, he moved to Aiken with his wife, Becky, where he would take the mission of serving veterans nationally, joining with other nonprofits and developed a network of communities and resources dedicated to serve veterans throughout the nation.
Through America's Warrior Partnership, he utilized a program known as Community Integration that unifies local communities and their resources around service members, veterans and their families, to increase employment, housing, health care and other areas of life satisfaction for them.
"What I always say is local communities know who to serve but don’t always have the resources," Lorraine said. "National nonprofits have the resources but don’t know who to serve."
The organization actively goes into communities, seeking out veterans through events and local groups including Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion posts.
The Partnership not only actively seeks out veterans in communities, they work toward building relationships to truly understand a veteran's needs and where to direct them for resources.
Since February 2015, the Partnership has served 53,213 individuals through its Community Integration program.
If local options are not available or exhausted, the America's Warrior Partnership national coordination platform, The Network, connects local organizations to vetted, quality national partners with which to collaborate.
With its 61 partners, the organization has served 770 warriors in 43 states across the country, amounting to 289 communities served, according to America's Warrior Partnership's website.
The public and veterans can reach out to the America’s Warrior Partnership network's 24-hour service to get assistance for veterans in the area by email at TheNetwork@AmericasWarriorPartnership.org or call 1-866-AWPVETS.
"I think we owe them," Lorraine said. "I think they’ve earned this assistance. I feel that every veteran has earned a right to access to success. There are services out there and most of the time veterans aren’t aware of them or they’re too complicated to find."
In May, America's Warrior Partnership launched the Dine Naazba Partnership to assist Navajo Nation Veterans.
Out of the area's population, 30% to 40% are veterans, most of them Marines, Lorraine said.
"Talking to them, I realized there were a lot of services available to them that they had earned that they just didn’t have access to either because they were not aware of them or that they couldn’t get into the nation because they are a sovereign nation," Lorraine said. "I think we can go into the Navajo nation and really make an exponential difference just by increasing access to services they have already earned."
The Partnership takes the same four-step approach it uses throughout the nation: connecting to veterans within the community while connecting with the community through programs, educating veterans about opportunities, advocating on behalf of veterans in need, and then collaborating within the community.
A specific team of Navajo veterans has worked with America's Warrior Partnership throughout the program.
So far, the program has connected 114 veterans, along with their families and caregivers, in the Navajo Nation to much-needed resources.
As for Aiken, Lorraine applauds the area's support of veterans, specifically the work of Robert Murphy, director of Veteran and Military Student Success at UCS Aiken, and Dwight Bradham, Aiken County's veteran affairs director.
"Aiken would be a community that you would look at and say this is a good community because it knows who their veterans are, it has services, and they’re coordinated," Lorraine said. "The banners on the street lights in downtown. We travel all over the county, you don’t see that. Here in Aiken, you do."
However, communities like Aiken are rare, Lorraine said, making the need for veteran support far more important.
The Partnership's continued goal in creating a better quality of life for all veterans helps build confidence in the U.S. military's future service men and women.
Looking back as a veteran of 22 years, Lorraine cherishes the value of veterans and urges the community's continued support.
"We want to give back to the community," Lorraine said. "We want to serve. We want to be part of it. On a larger scale, we all have a volunteer force. I think that if we serve our veterans and improve their quality of life – and if we as a nation show that we’re here to support them, along with the V.A. – then they’ll tell their children, their nieces, their nephews and their cousins that military service is a good thing and that America has their back when they come home."