Connecting the dots: Reintegrating veterans into civilian life

Many soldiers return home with physical and psychological wounds. They face unemployment, families that are not always intact and communities that are unable to meet their immediate and long-term needs.

At Easter Seals Crossroads we recognize the urgent needs facing military families and veterans reintegrating into their communities after serving our country. In January 2013, we launched a Military and Veterans Initiative in which we facilitated a means for area organizations to discuss how, together, we can fill the gaps and reach out to those veterans who need our services.

Colonel David SutherlandColonel David Sutherland, Executive Director of The Dixon Center, began the Initiative with his keynote address to over 400 community leaders, speaking about the crucial needs that veterans who are reintegrating into the public sector rely on but may have difficulty finding. Out of this initial presentation, more than 50 key community stakeholders have continued to meet to develop a community action plan that addresses the critical reintegration areas of housing, employment and training, family support and health.

This July we were awarded a $267,580 grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to provide homeless veterans with job training aimed at helping them succeed in civilian careers. The goal of the program is to help homeless veterans in the Indianapolis metro area achieve economic self-sufficiency and stability through long-term employment.

Building on Easter Seals Crossroads’ extensive employment service experience and the Community Action Planning coalition, the Homeless Veterans’ Reintegration grant is aimed at addressing the complex challenges that homeless veterans confront. Working in partnership with a multitude of community organizations allows us to extend our services to offer veterans job search and placement assistance, on-the-job training, career counseling, life skills, mentoring, as well as help in finding housing.

Due to the nature of the grant, we are in the process of hiring qualified coordinators and recruiting volunteers with a service background. Coincidentally, a gentleman who volunteered in our Adult Day Center asked us if he could get involved with us in other ways. His background in human resources, experience working with people with disabilities and his status as a veteran made him a perfect fit to work with this new program.

A veteran in uniform at an Easter Seals Crossroads facility

“We know that understanding the culture of veterans is just as important as providing the services,” Marjorie Mansfield, Manager of Employment Services at Easter Seals Crossroads, said about this volunteer. “Besides being a subject matter expert in human resources, he has the understanding of the culture of being a veteran himself,”

Receiving this grant means that we can continue to improve the lives of individuals in our community who need vital employment and rehabilitative services.

I look forward to writing another blog as we start working with veterans so that we can share the good news of how this grant is affecting our community.


Comments may not reflect Easterseals' policies or positions.

Please read our community guidelines when posting comments.

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