NOANK, Conn. (WTNH) — Marc Harrell can harvest 20,000 oysters a day during the summer.

Each work day, he receives an order from a customer, heads out on the water and picks the oysters fresh.

Harrell wasn’t always in the oyster business. He was a member of the U.S. Coast Guards’ ice patrol unit in New London when he left the service, and then began working with his neighbor, Jim Markow, who owned an oyster business.

Then, in 2018, Work Vessels for Veterans gave Harrell a 35-foot research vessel that had been donated by Dominion.

“We help injured veterans who want to go into business for themselves all over the country,” said Cathy Cook, the executive director of Work Vessels for Veterans.

That boat was what helped Harrell start harvesting oysters on the Mystic River.

“There’s no other veterans’ services like this that help a young service member get out of the service, start a business, work on a marketing plan, a business plan,” Harrell, who owns Mystic Oysters, said. “Some of those entrepreneurial skills you really don’t learn in the service.”

The group has helped more than 26,000 veterans nationwide with about $3.6 million in equipment.

Harrell, who is opening a restaurant in Mystic, is now a member of the nonprofit’s board of directors.

“For me, it’s a great way I can help another veteran figure out what they want to do,” he said.