By Paul Greulich, Staff Writer
ROSELLE PARK — Veterans with aspirations in the field of business now have a special resource to help them — the Veteran’s Chamber of Commerce, a new, statewide organization headquartered in Roselle Park.
The Veterans’ Chamber of Commerce was started over the summer as a result of collaboration between businessman Jim Brody and veteran Kevin Murphy. Their project has already received certification from the state and has begun to amass members.
“What we’re trying to do now is get it off the ground in terms of bringing in members,” said Brody, a Summit resident. “We are starting in an area that we know, which is the Union County area.”
The chamber is headquartered in a suite in the James A. Brown Agency building, located at 429 Chestnut St.
This organization is not associated with the existing New Jersey Chamber of Commerce, but is an organization of its own, with a focus on veteran-owned businesses. Its stated goals are to connect veterans and their family members with public- and private-sector opportunities in employment and career development, as well as to inform veterans of programs currently available to them, and open new sales and networking markets to business partners.
In addition to the business component, this chamber will seek to give aid and direction to veterans with social service and financial needs.
“If they need help in any way, shape or form, we want to be the place they can come to,” Brody said.
The genesis of the project dates back more than a year.
Brody and Murphy originally discussed establishing a traditional veterans-help organization. Eventually they decided to combine their respective fields of expertise to create this unique organization. Brody has a range of business and managerial experience, and ran the Township of Union’s Chamber of Commerce from 1999 through 2009.
Murphy joined the U.S. Air Force in 1970 and later served in Air National Guard and Army National Guard.
A Roselle Park resident, Murphy is chief operations officer of the chamber, while Brody, a Summit resident, is chief executive officer. Both see a need for an organization that supports veterans, and cite the recent retreat of U.S. forces from Iraq and the ongoing war in Afghanistan.
Murphy, who is disabled and regularly visits the VA, where he has met veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, said he is interested in helping veterans, even during peacetime.
“I know what disabled vets go through,” he said. “I see firsthand what happens to these vets.”
Jim D’Arcy, commander of the Cranford VFW, said he is not yet familiar with Brody and Murphy’s project, but is intrigued by it.
“I think anything that is useful in helping veterans get jobs or promote their businesses in this day and age is great,” he said. “If it can truly help veterans then I’m in their court for sure.”
D’Arcy, a Vietnam veteran, remembers a time when returning veterans received very little support to help them pursue new careers.
“The only support I truly got was the VA bill, to go to college. But it was not a lot of money back then,” he said.
Murphy said he faced a similar experience, and is relieved there are more opportunities and funding available now, saying “Even though it’s still tough, there has been more openness and acceptance toward vets.”
Murphy and Brody have high hopes for their new organization.
“We think this thing is going to take off,” Brody said. “We hope in a few years this statewide organization could become a model for a nationwide organization. You’ve got to start small, you can’t start big.”
To learn more, visit www.veteranschamberofcommerce-nj.com
Paul Greulich can be reached at
908-686-7700 ext. 121, or at [email protected]