Agency Expands Commitment to Veterans and Military Families
Washington D.C. -- Today at the White House, First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden recognized the Corporation on National and Community Service (CNCS) and programs supported by the agency for improving the lives of veterans and military family members nationwide at the Joining Forces First Anniversary Celebration.
The White House saluted CNCS for its collaborative partnership with the National Guard Bureau and more than 200 local nonprofit organizations that will work with AmeriCorps members and Senior Corps volunteers to provide services to veterans and their family members.
“We proudly support the First Lady and Dr. Jill Biden in their efforts to serve our veterans who sacrificed so much for our country,” said Koby J. Langley, Senior Advisor to the CEO for Wounded Warrior, Veterans and Military Family Initiatives who joined CNCS CEO Wendy Spencer at the White House. “At CNCS, we have made it a strategic priority to tap the skills and talents of veterans to tackle problems on the homefront while also connecting them and their families to the support and resources they have earned for their sacrifice.”
First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden created Joining Forces to bring Americans together to recognize, honor and take action to support veterans and military families as they serve our country and throughout their lives. The initiative aims to educate, challenge, and spark action from all sectors of society to ensure veterans and military families have the support they have earned. The initiative focuses on key priority areas – employment, education, and wellness -- while raising awareness about the service, sacrifice, and needs of America's veterans and military families.
In her remarks today, the First Lady commended the work of Blue Star Families “Operation Honor Cards”, which has collected more than 21 million pledged community service hours for military families. A joint project of Blue Star Families, American Red Cross, Points of Light Institute, ServiceNation, and CNCS, the initiative asks Americans to honor our military families by pledging service of their own. AmeriCorps VISTA members with Blue Star Families play a key role in the development, implementation, daily operations, and oversight of Operation Honor Cards.
The White House also recognized the six winners of Joining Forces Community Challenge, including Give an Hour, founded by Washington D.C.-based psychologist Barbara Van Dahlen. Give an Hour is dedicated to meeting the mental health needs of military personnel, their families, and the communities affected by the ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Give an Hour is empowered through CNCS as an AmeriCorps VISTA project of the American Legion Auxiliary.
“Give an Hour's mission of providing easily accessible and free mental health care is very important for our veterans and military families, and it is very rewarding for our volunteer mental health providers who have stepped up to offer their services to support those who serve and their families.” says Dr. Barbara Van Dahlen, Founder and President of Give an Hour. “We are honored to be recognized by the First Lady and Dr. Biden and we embrace their vision of community based solutions. We are also very proud of our relationship with the Corporation for National and Community Service and thrilled to have AmeriCorps VISTAs play a key role in our efforts to better support our military families through our work with the Community Blueprint Network.”
The agency's efforts have cultivated a unique and innovative federal, state, and local community-driven strategy that will empower over 200 communities in the next two years to help veterans and military families. In 2012 alone, CNCS-supported programs will directly impact the lives of more than 100,000 veterans and their families.
Since the passage of the 2009 Serve America Act, CNCS has expanded investments in serving transitioning service members, veterans and military families of all eras to unprecedented numbers. More than 16,000 veterans have served in AmeriCorps since its inception, helping other veterans and military families access benefits and services; obtain job training and conduct job searching; provide safe and affordable housing; and mentor and tutor children of service members.
In addition, many State Service Commissions that report directly to their respective Governors have committed important resources to assist veterans and military families with community and national service solutions. Much of these funds are matched by private entities to ensure maximum return on the tax-payer dollar. States leading the charge include:
- Ohio – AMVETS Career Center provides employment counseling services for thousands of transitioning veterans.
- California – Operation Welcome Home touches tens of thousands of returning guardsmen with important information about available benefits and services.
- Virginia – Virginia Veterans Corps assists Virginia veterans attain benefits and services that they have earned at the federal, state, and community level.
- Iowa - Iowa Green Veterans AmeriCorps Program engages veterans in providing energy efficient home upgrades for veterans.
- Louisiana – St. Bernard Project helps veterans recovering from the disaster of Katrina connect with housing and economic opportunities.
- Washington - Washington State Veterans Corps helps veterans utilizing their Post 9-11 GI Bill to take full advantage of their education benefits.
- Nevada – United by Service Westcare AmeriCorps Project provides important behavioral health counseling services for Veterans and military families.