Page 1

the COALITION

in

ACTION

fall 2009 volume 1 s issue 2

CIAV Strategy Summit:

STRENGTHENING SERVICES FOR OUR MILITARY, VETERANS, FAMILIES AND SURVIVORS

―My life changed dramatically when the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund started a relationship with my family. They provided assistance to them when everyone else focused primarily on me. That assistance allowed my family the opportunity to help me get back on my feet. My relationship with the Fund is more than just appreciation but as part of my family – a family that provides support to one another. ― - Gunnery SGT William "Spanky" Gibson

The CIAV convened in Washington D.C. October 6—7, 2009 for a Strategic Summit addressing the needs of our military, veterans, families, and survivors. Members of CIAV organizations conducted a whirlwind of meetings with lawmakers, government and community partners, and hosted an Informational Briefing for funders and supporters. These meetings followed on the heels of the very successful CIAV May 2009 Conference themed, Moving Forward and Making a Difference. By convening for the CIAV Strategy Summit, collaborative efforts within the CIAV were fostered along with partnerships and outreach efforts with other community and government entities. The Honorable Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House, hosted the CIAV for a discussion with lawmakers on Capitol Hill. National Legislative Director for Disabled American Veterans, Joseph Violante, facilitated the dialogue between legislative members and the Coalition. CIAV subject matter experts including Cynthia Adkins of Project Victory, Michael Blecker of Swords to Plowshares, Kara Dallman and Sally Zoll of United Through Reading, and Abel Moreno of Vets for Vets provided a report from the field highlighting CIAV organization efforts nationwide serving military, veterans, families and survivors on the ground every day. By telling stories of deployed families and addressing the wounds of war, the CIAV organizations throughout the country brought these very real issues from their communities to our nation’s Capitol. Congressman Bob Filner, Chair of the Veterans Affairs Committee attended the dialogue and expressed commitment to partner with community-based organizations serving the OIF/OEF population. The Chairman spoke of the importance of ser-

A Report from the Field

vice delivery to service members as they return from combat and before they fall through the cracks. His idea of a ―Heroes’ Homecoming Pilot Program,,‖ which he has been pushing to Congress for some time, would provide a camp for returning service members where they may decompress from war time stress, address potential PTSD and TBI and be provided with in-depth transitional services and training for a successful civilian life. As Filner clearly stated, ―all of you in this room have something to contribute to this project.‖ During the afternoon of October 6, the CIAV invited members of the Department of Labor, Department of Defense, Departmen t of Justice, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Defense Centers of Excellence, Department of Agriculture, Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and many others to gather for a strategic planning meeting. This session provided a forum for the CIAV members to present the work they are doing across the country and the issues affecting the military and veteran community. CIAV subject matter experts Fred Gusman of The Pathway Home spoke about the importance of residential treatment; Bonnie Carroll of TAPS spoke of the rise in suicides among service members and families and the ways in which loved ones are dealing with loss; and Michael O’Gorman of Farmer-Veteran Coalition addressed the importance of employment and training for our newest generation of veterans. Brigadier General Loree Sutton joined the dialogue and spoke on DCoE’s Real Warrior’s Campaign, of which the CIAV recently became a partner. Following the general session, attendees broke into two working groups in the areas of physical and mental health needs and economic health

WWW.COALITIONFORVETERANS.ORG


Page 2

Coalition in ACTION

New Partnerships We are very pleased to announce that the Department of Defense Centers of Excellence (DCoE) Real Warriors Campaign and U.S. Army Freedom Team Salute will partner with the Coalition for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans in serving those who serve. This opportunity embraces the goals of our last conference in building strong relationships with the VA, DoD, and our partners in the community to advance services and supports for military, veterans, families and survivors. The partnership with the Real Warriors Campaign will allow more service members, veterans, families, and survivors access to the services offered by our agencies by spotlighting our programs on the CIAV and Real Warriors Campaign websites, in our informational materials, and through our respective networks. We will also maintain ongoing communication with DCoE and collaborate whenever possible. View their website at

for the CIAV

realwarriors.net, and learn more about the campaign themed, ―Real Warriors. Real Battles. Real Strength.‖ The website features articles and resources on a variety of psychological health issues, as well as video interviews with service members, their families and others dealing with psychological health or traumatic brain injury issues. The DCoE Outreach Center offering psychological health and traumatic brain injury information and resources is available 24/7 by a live chat from by dialing 866966-1020 or going to realwarriors.net. For the Coalition’s profile or to view other campaign affiliates, visit realwarriors.net/partner. The CIAV and the U.S. Army Freedom Team Salute have partnered for the purpose of enhancing collaboration and communication and strengthen bonds between the Army, its veterans, and its supporters. This partnership will help to

create and maintain two-way communication between the U.S. Army and the Coalition for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans, and be a one-stop coordination point between the U.S. Army and the CIAV for all initiatives, actions, and information sharing. By this partnership, the U.S. Army Freedom Team Salute shows recognition of all those who have ever served in the U.S. Army uniform within the Coalition for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans membership, as well as parents, spouses, employers and supporters of soldiers within the CIAV organizations. Learn more about the U.S. Army Freedom Team Salute at freedomteamsalute.com. The program recognizes the essential bond between Soldiers, family and community; celebrates the

sacrifices made by all those who support our Soldiers; and honors the millions of Veterans who have served and who remain as our living connection to generations of duty, honor, and patriotism. CIAV partnerships allow us all to share in the responsibility for the care and needs of those we have sent to war and their loved ones and to be part of the team as a recognized and valued partner. We look forward to working with the Real Warriors Campaign and the US Army Freedom Team Salute to strengthen services for those who serve.

Recommended Reading Exit Wounds, by Derek McGinnis is both a guide to pain management for veterans and their family members, and also the inspiring story of how one man, with the support of his family and fellow veterans, fought to survive and even thrive despite his traumatic injuries and painful path to recovery. Derek McGinnis, who sustained a traumatic brain injury, extensive shrapnel wounds, damage to his eye and amputation of his left leg above the knee from an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) while serving in the U.S. Navy in Iraq, said, ―I wrote Exit Wounds because when I was struggling with horrific pain caused by my injuries, there was no guide, no map, no mentor to steer me through the minefield I was navigating. Exit Wounds contains the information my family and I desperately needed back in 2004.‖ To read an excerpt of Exit Wounds or to learn more about obtaining a copy, visit exitwoundsforveterans.org. The book is currently being distributed to veterans and service members free through the Wounded Warrior Project and the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund, a CIAV organization. It is available to civilians through Amazon.

WWW.COALITIONFORVETERANS.ORG


Fall 2009 Vol. 1 Issue 2

Page 3

CIAV Strategy Summit

(continued from page 1)

Dialogue within the physical and mental health session included the importance of identifying both federal and community resources for returning veterans and families before they fall through the cracks, partnerships to serve those who serve, and streamlining referrals from the VA and DoD for PTSD and TBI services, residential treatment, and other psychological health services to community organizations. The working group for economic health and opportunity underlined the difficulty of establishing proof of PTSD and TBI for disability documentation and compensation, establishing an avenue for proper representation for benefits, financial incentives for federal and community partnerships, and obstacles to employment and housing.

―Returning home from Afghanistan and Iraq, I quickly embraced a lifestyle that was neither healthy nor productive. It did not take long for me to destroy myself. I entered the New Directions program and got help for my addictions, my PTSD and my legal problems, and I learned how to live a healthier life.‖

Community organizations also stressed the ways in which we can stretch a dollar and operate effec- Steve Keesal, client of New Directions tively and efficiently, often while the veteran is navigating the hurdles of the VA and waiting for treatment and benefits. The CIAV organizations have agility and are a perfect resource for pilot projects and creative responses which would labor through large bureaucracies. Many agencies emphasized the need for a ―one-stop shop‖ listing of resources and that there is confusion as to what services are truly effective when confronted with so much information. Moving forward, this dialogue has further opened channels for partnerships between community and federal entities and opportunities to be a resource for our colleagues in Washington D.C. An informational briefing for community supporters was held on the final day of the Strategy Summit. CIAV subject matter experts including Joseph Bobrow of the Coming Home Project, Linda Davidson of Our Military Kids, Amy Fairweather, director of the CIAV, and Amy Palmer of Operation Homefront, presented on the issues facing those affected by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The forum highlighted how these issues reach and affect the communities in which the warrior and loved ones live. It is a responsibility of all of us as a nation to care for those who have served. Representatives from the funding community in the audience were very responsive to the message of the CIAV and were concerned at the financial strain placed on community organizations to care for warriors and their loved ones when federal agencies are unable to do so. Ideally, further dialogue and relationships will be fostered through this important forum. During the two days of the October Strategy Sessions, important issues and needs were presented by the CIAV members to legislative representatives, federal entities, and community supporters. All of the meetings were well attended and resulted in lively information sharing and brainstorming on how we, in community-government partnerships can meet the challenges ahead.

Spotlight:

USA Cares

For seven years USA Cares has been serving our Nation’s post9/11 military and veteran families. Through financial and advocacy support, USA Cares has provided over $6,300,000 in grants to service members with needs ranging from utility shut-offs to intervention in a home foreclosure. In fact, USA Cares has saved 850 service members and their families from eviction or foreclosure. Case management is provided not only in a timely manner, but with care to protect the service member or veteran’s privacy and dignity. As USA Cares endeavors to expand their advocacy efforts and bring to light the unique financial needs of the military, they have recently announced

their new Military Family Housing Lender Education Program. How it works is twofold: USA Cares works with lenders to educate them on the specific challenges that military home buyers face and secondly provide financial counseling for service members and their families who are struggling. Bill Nelson, Executive Director of USA Cares said, ―Our nation is at war and suffering tough economic times. Our new program will help those now serving and veteran borrowers avoid foreclosure and improve the experience of prospective homeowners who seek affordable homes.‖ USA Cares has been an active organization within the Coalition for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans since the CIAV’s inception in 2007, and has truly been a team player - assisting their fellow Coali-

tion agencies with several aid requests. The CIAV would like to acknowledge the commitment and compassion of USA Cares. Through their efforts in the CIAV, we can continue to reach out to our Nation’s military, veterans, families, and survivors. USA Cares Top 10 Referrals for Assistance through FY09 YTD: Cases

%

Military One Source

Organization

713

15.34%

VA Hospital

569

12.24%

Internet Search

496

10.67%

Friend/ Co-Worker/ Neighbor

462

9.94%

Unit/ Chain of Command

325

6.99%

Business Referral

296

6.37%

Resources for Soldiers

288

6.20%

Army Emergency Relief

185

3.98%

Pioneer Services

151

3.25%

Family Readiness Group

143

3.08%


1060 Howard Street San Francisco, CA 94103 415-252-4788 info@coalitionforveterans.org

Publisher Coalition for Iraq + Afghanistan Veterans Director Amy Fairweather Editor Megan Klein Zottarelli Design Mary Moran Contributors Amy Fairweather Tia Christopher Please send comments to Megan Klein Zottarelli mklein@stp-sf.org

COALITION MEMBER ORGANIZATION RESOURCES

visit us on the web coalitionforveterans.org

NEW ONLINE

TOOLS to Assist Those Who Serve

The Partnership for a Drug-Free America, together with the National Military Family Association and the National Association of School Nurses, launched new online tools to assist military families and teens through difficult periods of transition, such as a deployment, major injury or illness of a parent, or when moving frequently to new neighborhoods and schools. The free tools are available at TimeToTalk.org/military. Nearly half a million veterans are taking advantage of the new GI Bill this year alone and many veterans in will have questions about their benefits. IAVA has launched the most comprehensive GI Bill resource on the web at newgibill.org. The CIAV website contains a comprehensive directory of resources offered by CIAV member organizations for military, veterans, families, and survivors. You can also download a resource directory with a state by state guide to the National Guard Transition Assistance Advisors, VA OIF/OEF Program Managers, and VA Women’s Veteran Coordinators at coalitionforveterans.org/publications.

STRENGTHENING SERVICES FOR THOSE WHO SERVE

CIAV Fall 09 Newsletter  

The Coalition for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans (CIAV) is a national non-partisan partnership of organizations committed to working with and...