Nonprofits Struggle to Reach At-Risk Veterans Who Shun VA Services
By Richard Sisk
26 May 2019
In addition to the VA and other government agencies, there are traditional veterans service organizations and more than 40,000 support groups registered as nonprofits with the Internal Revenue Service, according to the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University.
Participants of the 2019 377th Security Forces Squadron Suicide Awareness Ruck March stand in formation at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico, March 29, 2019. The ruck march was created to support The Brave Badge Initiative Facebook page. The Facebook page was created due to the increased rates in suicide in the security forces career field in the past year and aims to give Defenders another place to go to when they are struggling with mental health issues. (Austin J. Prisbrey/U.S. Air Force)NEW YORK CITY -- From a warren of desks in a downtown Manhattan office building, the small team of social workers and counselors takes calls from veterans who either won't go to the Department of Veterans Affairs or are bewildered on where to turn for help.
This is the Rapid Response Referral Program of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, an effort to combat what Navy Reserve Cmdr. Jeremy Butler, IAVA's chief executive officer, calls the "navigation" problem for veterans trying to find the right fit in a vast and disjointed support system.
"It's an Impossible task, knowing everything that's out there" among the various groups offering help, and "each group seems to exist in its own bubble." Army Staff Sgt. Dennis Higgins
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