WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Corporation for National and Community Service, along with Points of Light and a coalition of more than 55 veteran and military service organizations, nonprofits and government agencies from across the country today launched the Community Blueprint – a national initiative to support the reintegration of returning military service members, veterans and their families.
To advance the Community Blueprint, ITT Exelis CEO and President David Melcher announced the company's five-year,$5 million investment in the initiative, as well as a new Exelis employee volunteer program that will add the company's human resources to the effort.
"Civilian transition is one of the greatest challenges facing many service members, veterans and their families when they return to their communities," said Neil Bush, Chairman of Points of Light's Board of Directors. "No one government agency or nonprofit organization has the resources or intellectual capital to provide a lifetime of care and support for all of these heroes, so our coalition of partners knew it was mission critical for us to band together on their behalf."
With more than one million members of the military returning home in the next five years, the Community Blueprint encourages a comprehensive, local support system that addresses the diverse issues and needs impacting returning service members, veterans and their families. The Community Blueprint also aims to inspire, equip and mobilize veterans to engage with their local communities through meaningful service.
The initiative's goal is to establish 200 cities and towns as Community Blueprint communities by 2014. Current Community Blueprint sites include Huntsville, AL; the State of Delaware; Los Angeles, CA; Orange County, CA; San Diego, CA; Denver, CO; Jacksonville, FL; Miami, FL; Atlanta, GA; Macon, GA; Valdosta, GA; State of Indiana; Fayetteville, NC; Dallas, TX; Huntsville, TX; Tyler, TX; Fairfax, VA; Hampton Roads, VA; Seattle, WA; and Tacoma, WA.
Hundreds of thousands of troops return home each year, and these men and women often encounter a complex and confusing set of support services. For too many, it is difficult to access essential services such as health care, job training or family counseling. Others encounter duplicative services or a lack of any support at all. The Community Blueprint's mission is to establish clarity and coordination for returning service members so that they can access the services and support they need, while also empowering them to be our communities' future leaders and problem-solvers.
"As a company that manufactures products, systems and technologies that protect soldiers on the battlefield, and with approximately 10 percent of our workforce being military veterans themselves, partnering with Points of Light to support the Community Blueprint was natural for ITT Exelis," said David Melcher, CEO and President of ITT Exelis. "We're extremely proud and honored to continue to show our commitment to those who have bravely served our nation by supporting service members, our veterans and their families as they reintegrate into civilian society."
As a result of the company's $5 million investment, the Community Blueprint will introduce new tools and resources and deploy AmeriCorps members. Both will help local communities and leaders foster greater coordination and collaboration of veterans' services.
"We are honored to work with our partners in the military and nonprofit communities to create economic opportunities for veterans and their families," said Wendy Spencer, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service. "Today we welcome even more veterans into the AmeriCorps program as part of Points of Light's Veteran Leader Corps. In addition to involving veterans in national service, we also gave more than $6 millionin grants last year to veteran-supporting organizations, underscoring our commitment to those who served and sacrificed for our country."
At the same time, ITT Exelis will engage its more than 20,000 employees through the Exelis Action Corps – a robust employee volunteer program designed to create large-scale, team and individual volunteer projects to support and engage returning military service members, veterans and their families across the U.S. Through this program, which kicks-off in early November 2012, ITT Exelis employees will be trained to organize and lead local volunteer projects, creating dozens of opportunities for both employees and community members to participate in each year.
"We salute ITT Exelis for making it possible for Points of Light, the Corporation for National and Community Service and our 55 partner organizations to launch the Community Blueprint on a national scale," said Michelle Nunn, CEO of Points of Light. "Points of Light is honored to be leading this new initiative, which will create better collaboration between government agencies and veteran and military service organizations, and effectively engage local communities and leaders in addressing the diverse and complex issues affecting returning service members, veterans and their families."
The Community Blueprint officially launched today with a luncheon hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C.and attended by more than 200 coalition partners, public officials and military leaders, including a keynote address by General George W. Casey, Jr. (ret.), U.S. Army Chief of Staff 2007-2011 and senior coalition commander in Iraq from June 2004 to February 2007. Also at the event, William C. Basl of the Corporation for National and Community Service (home to AmeriCorps) inducted 30 AmeriCorps members – many of them veterans themselves – who will be deployed in Community Blueprint cities across the country.