Local Veteran Organizations Open The Door to National Services Through Online Networks By Jim Lorraine, President and CEO of America’s Warrior Partnership The people who are best positioned to assist veterans are often found within the very communities where they live and work. Every city or town is unique in its own way, and local organizations based within a community understand how to navigate the programs and services available to veterans. As a national organization, we at America’s Warrior Partnership focus on empowering these local community groups with the resources they need to proactively and holistically support veterans. One of the ways in which we seek to empower community organizations is by ensuring they can refer veterans to an appropriate partner or program when a need cannot be met by their in-house services. A lack of internal or local resources is a recurring challenge for veteran-serving organizations across the country. The VA Office of Research and Development published a study that surveyed 7,600 veterans and identified several factors that can lead to a veteran not seeking care or dropping out of offered care. One of the leading causes was delay in treatment, which can lead to veterans feeling like they are “lost in the system.” An exhaustion of in-house resources to assist a veteran with a specific issue opens an opportunity for organizations to refer that veteran to a trusted partner who does have the ability to assist with that problem. This approach ensures that veterans receive the care they need with as little delay as possible. The benefits of having access to a strong network of partners were recently illustrated by the Veterans’ One Stop Center of Western New York, a local affiliate organization of America’s Warrior Partnership based out of Buffalo, New York. The center helped Stanley, a 24-year old former Marine, overcome challenges he was facing in getting a medical appointment for back surgery. Stanley had been trying unsuccessfully for months to get the medical attention he needed when he connected with outreach officers from the Veterans’ One Stop Center. He needed a consultation to if determine surgery would be appropriate to alleviate a problem with his back. 20
HOMELAND / December 2018
While the Veterans’ One Stop Center could not fulfill this need itself, the team did have connections with local VA medical centers that could. An advocate assigned to Stanley’s case scheduled a consultation for him at a nearby VA medical center, which was able to address his needs and determine the best course of action. In addition, the Veterans’ One Stop Center connected Stanley with a veteran service organization based in his county to assist with filing an increase on his disability claim. This partner was able to help Stanley complete the necessary paperwork and navigate the claims process. By referring Stanley to partners who could assist in areas that it could not handle in-house, the Veterans’ One Stop Center ensured he received needed assistance as quickly as possible, which also helped him regain faith in the system. Veteran-serving organizations across the country can follow this example, even if they do not have an extensive network of partners. Technology opens the door for these local organizations to connect with national resource by tapping into online platforms built specifically for veteran communities. As an example, we provide the Veterans’ One Stop Center and many other organizations nationwide with access to The Network, which is built on a HIPAA-compliant technology platform called WarriorServe. Organizations that tap into The Network can create case files, make live referrals and conduct follow-ups for individual veterans based on identified needs. In addition to partnering organizations at the local level, The Network connects groups with national resources such as the VA, education institutions and veteran-centered service providers. It all adds up to a holistic network of care for veterans that can be accessed at the local level. These kinds of networks open a wide range of opportunities for local veteran-serving organizations. Community groups looking for more information on how to connect with a national network can visit www.AmericasWarriorPartnership.org/The-Network to get started. About the Author Jim Lorraine is President and CEO of America’s Warrior Partnership, a national nonprofit that helps veteranserving organizations connect with veterans, military members and families in need. Learn more about the organization at www.AmericasWarriorPartnership.org.