You will be redirected to the page you want to view in  seconds.

Easter Seals groups ramp up help to veterans

Nov. 23, 2013 - 11:49AM   |  
  • Filed Under

CINCINNATI — Like many people, Gary Staten typically thought of the nonprofit group Easter Seals as mainly helping children and adults with disabilities and special needs.

But the Marine veteran is grateful that the organization’s affiliates are carrying out a new initiative to create support networks for veterans, military service members and their families through communitywide partnerships.

Staten credits staff at Cincinnati-based Easter Seals TriState — which serves areas in southwestern Ohio, northern Kentucky and southeastern Indiana — for helping him find a job with FedEx just weeks after his recent military discharge and for his wife’s temporary job. They also helped him get emergency financial assistance after the government shutdown delayed his military pay.

“I thought we would just be on our own,” said Staten, 33, of Hebron, Ky., across the Ohio River from Cincinnati. “But this organization showed that there are people out there who do care and want to help veterans and not just pass the buck.

Easter Seals has served military service members and veterans since World War II, but the current initiative goes well beyond those efforts. Easter Seals affiliates are providing their own services and promoting cooperative efforts involving area organizations, employers and schools that serve veterans. They also are focusing on how to better use existing resources and find ways of filling any gaps in service.

“We are committing all of Easter Seals to be a resource for veterans and their families nationwide,” said Randall Rutta, the national Easter Seals’ chief strategy officer.

Easter Seals is working with the Washington-based Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Community Services in setting up these communitywide efforts. Retired U.S. Army Col. David Sutherland, who heads the center, says an integrated approach will help avoid duplications or gaps in service that can result from organizations working on their own.

“There are so many, it can be confusing,” he said.

The efforts in Cincinnati began with identifying the region’s organizations serving veterans, inviting them to meetings starting in February and forming a steering committee of representatives from those groups, said David Dreith, executive vice president of the Easter Seals affiliate. The committee is working to identify the region’s needs and which agencies can best meet those needs, either alone or in conjunction with others.

One hurdle to forming some of these community partnerships around the country is that many nonprofit agencies compete for some of the same funding.

“That’s why it is important to keep the focus on the people we are all trying to serve,” Dreith said.

Another important part of the initiative is a mechanism for referring veterans to the organizations that can best serve them.

Anthony Hassan, director of the Center of Innovation and Research on Veterans and Military Families at the University of Southern California, believes the Cincinnati-based model is one that other areas should follow.

“Cincinnati is a great example of small city, rural and suburban all coming together,” Hassan said.

In Indianapolis, the Easter Seals Crossroads is developing a “rally point” — a one-stop physical site where veterans and family members can go to receive services, information and referral, said Bruce Schnaith, vice president of workforce development services.

Anysa Holder, a spokeswoman for Easter Seals New Jersey, says that organization is still developing its plan for the community-based approach but has already held some events to provide veterans with information on where they can go for assistance.

Hassan, whose center is leading a collaborative in Los Angeles, said there are similar efforts outside of Easter Seals, but he is not seeing enough across the country.

“If we are going to create a safety net for returning veterans, all of us are going to have to come together and create a network of support that is smart and efficient and one that can provide the service when it’s needed,” he said.

Answers by RallyPoint

Join trending discussions in the military's #1 professional community. See what members like yourself have to say from across the DoD.

More In Pay & Benefits

Start your day with a roundup of top defense news.

VA Home Loan

Search By:

Product Options:
Zip Code:

News for your in-box

Sign up now for free Military Times E-Reports. Choose from Money and Education. Subscribers: log in for premium e-newsletters.

This Week's Navy Times

This Week's Navy Times

Go mustang
LDO and warrant careers offer more authority, a pay hike and big retirement payout

Subscribe for Print or Digital delivery today!

MilitaryTimes Green Trusted Classifieds Looking to buy, sell and connect on Military Times?
Browse expanded listings across hundreds of military installations.
Faces of valorHonoring those who fought and died in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.
hall of valorThe Hall of Valor is a searchable database of valor award citations collected by Doug Sterner, a Vietnam veteran and Military Times contributing editor, and by Military Times staff.

All you need to know about your military benefits.

Benefits handbook

Guard & Reserve All you need to know about the Guard & Reserve.

guard and reserve handbook