In October 2012, STEP changed its name to Support the Enlisted Project (STEP), modified our mission to better meet the needs of the Southern California military community and extend eligibility of services to enlisted veterans within the first 12 months after discharge (later increased to 18 months). To accomplish these goals, STEP disaffiliated from a national sponsor at that time and, to this date, does not accept federal or state dollars.
The result has been a near doubling of our services delivered to the same community than we've ever had and is currently approaching a 200% increase in its services. Our services are provided locally from our headquarters in San Diego and our office in Santa Ana by a small team of 12 employees and 60 dedicated volunteers, many of whom are former military, active duty or military spouses.
Tony Teravainen assumed his position as CEO & Co-Founder in February 2014 after serving as a STEP board member since 2009. In this role, Tony oversees the positioning of STEP as a successful, trusted and viable partner to San Diego’s military population. Under his guidance, STEP has assisted more than 3,000 military and veteran families in Southern California through financial counseling and $1.3 million in grants.
The son of a career Air Force father, Tony knows firsthand the hardships young military families endure. After a medical condition abruptly ended his career as a U.S. Navy submariner, he experienced the difficulties of a rushed transition to civilian life. This is why Tony sees himself, his mother, his father, and his brother, each time a young child, a military spouse, a fellow veteran or service member visits the STEP office.