There are approximately 72,000 new veterans in Illinois, 52% of which live in the Chicago area. Most of these individuals are returning from Iraq and Afghanistan directly to their home communities with little to no transition from service. Once home, there is no formalized way in which they can connect with resources to help guide them to careers, social services, education and family supports.
With little recourse, many are thrust into crisis with devastating consequences. Communities are ill-prepared to receive these new veterans, with few services designed specifically with their needs in mind, and little to no working relationships with partners such as the VA health system or the VA benefits administration.
Through a three-pronged approach which includes development of comprehensive peer to peer support network, training and capacity building among nonprofit partners to better identify and refer veterans and their families, and convening of nonprofit and government partners to ensure care coordination, the veterans program seeks to develop a better process by which veterans can access services when they are in need and before they reach a crisis.