Alexander Feest, of Appleton, is a returning combat veteran from the United States Marine Corps.
During his time as a student at Fox Valley Technical College, Feest was also a member of the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh Vet Corps Program.
The UW Oshkosh Vet Corps is an existing AmeriCorps grant program, which is operated by the University’s Center for Career Development and Employability Training (CCDET) and aims to help college veterans fully integrate back into civilian life after their military service has concluded. The program is run and housed at UW Oshkosh, but is open to students from various educational institutions throughout the Fox Valley.
After Feest’s courageous and heroic time spent deployed, he returned a changed man. Like many, Feest was experiencing the horrors of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, commonly known as PTSD.
This past year, Feest took his dedication and commitment to service further than ever expected.
Feest was placed at Riverview Gardens, a nonprofit organization in Appleton, which is a financially self-sustaining social enterprise, focused on job training for people in need, in an urban farm and park setting. It was Feest’s goal to show his fellow veterans who suffer in similar ways as himself that self-healing is possible through meaningful and constructive projects that he was exposed to at Riverview Gardens.
On Wednesday, Sept. 16, Feest will be given the Harkin Excellence in Service Award in Washington D.C for his efforts in guiding other local veterans in coping with the invisible and burdening disability.
The award, presented in the name of Former Senator Harkin (a major champion on national and community service), is given to four individuals throughout the country, each having been nominated by people who have witnessed the members’ service.
This year, after a year of service with Wisconsin’s only veteran focused AmeriCorps program, and one of only a handful in the entire nation, Feest is being recognized as a “member with disability (ies) who significantly contributed to increasing participation of other individuals with disabilities in national service.”
When discussing Feest’s progress and impact on local veterans, Site Supervisor Kelly Nutty said: “Alex single-handedly conducted significant outreach to numerous local groups to promote teambuilding days and special events for military members and veterans at Riverview Gardens. Because of Alex’s efforts, veterans from all branches of service have joined Riverview Gardens as community volunteers, and veterans in need have connected with us and joined our job-training program…”
Each year, up to 22 Vet Corps members dedicate 450 hours of service to local area nonprofit organizations to help bring unique specialties to these organizations.
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