‘Greater Collective Purpose’ Needed to Leverage Contributions of Veterans Groups, Report Says

A new study points to a “lack of collaboration, coordination and collective purpose” among public, private, and nonprofit organizations serving veterans and military families as a significant factor in the nation’s failure to ensure veterans receive needed medical, social and financial assistance.

“Notwithstanding the combined goodwill and determination across all sectors of our economy, collective efforts remain largely fragmented in addressing veteran and military family challenges,” states the report from the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University (IVMF).

Researchers found that nearly 45,000 nongovernmental, nonprofit groups nationwide focus on veterans and military issues, with many “largely going it alone in their efforts” to provide services, reported Military Times.

The authors make the case for a “collective impact” model — a framework for bringing diverse organizations together around complex social problems — to help communities advance the lives of veterans and military families.

In late 2014, IVMF launched a pilot coordinated provider network in New York City, AmericaServes. The initiative is aimed at supporting communities committed to improving the lives of veterans and family members through the creation of comprehensive, accountable, and evidence-based service delivery networks of resources and care.

“Our observations of ongoing practice in the veterans’ space are sufficient enough to understand that the single-most obvious gap in community-based services supporting America’s veterans and their families is in fact the space between providers themselves,” said Jim McDonough, IVMF’s managing director of community engagement and innovation.

“Unless we address this now through these collective designs and effort, our communities will never be in a position of strength and excellence to serve the needs of veteran families,” McDonough said.

The institute’s pilot will be expanded to Pittsburgh and North Carolina this summer.

The report also stresses that caring for veterans is a national moral responsibility, one that extends far beyond what a single federal agency can provide.

“Wellness encompasses far more than sustaining physical health and fulfilling material need,” it states. “The VA was never designed to reintegrate veterans into civilian society, repair their existing social relationships or build new ones in the communities in which they ultimately settle.”

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