On May 12, 2015, nearly 200 cross-sector leaders from grantmakers, veterans, military family organizations, policymakers, and service providers marked the first anniversary of the Philanthropy-Joining Forces Impact Pledge  with a national convening on philanthropic support for veterans and military families at the headquarters of the American Red Cross.
Hosted by the Council on Foundations and the Veterans Philanthropy Exchange, organizers announced more than $106 million in new commitments to strengthen services and support for veterans and military families nationwide. All participating foundations have also committed to remaining engaged with each other in an ongoing information sharing and collaboration effort.
Since last year's Impact Pledge announcement  of $170,000,000 an additional $106,225,000 has been committed (both cash and in-kind), bringing the total to $276,225,000. These new Impact Pledge members and their respective focus areas are:
- Conrad N. Hilton Foundation: Eliminate veterans homelessness.
- Jewish Women's Foundation of New Jersey: Addressing issues facing women veterans.
- Lockheed Martin Corporation: Serving military members, veterans, and their families.
- New York State Health Foundation: Replicating best practices to serve veterans, strengthen behavioral health providers, and evaluate emerging partnerships between the Department of Veterans Affairs and the private health care sector.
- Walmart Foundation: Strengthening regional and state ecosystems that serve veterans and military families.
- WebMD Health Foundation: Addressing the mental health needs of veterans and military families.
- Read the report  detailing the work of the Philanthropy-Joining Forces Impact Pledge members.
- Review Vikki Spruill's remarks  at the 2015 Philanthropy-Joining Forces Impact Pledge Anniversary.
- Listen to U.S. Secretary of VA Robert A. McDonald's address .
- View the entire plenary program  from the 2015 Philanthropy-Joining Forces Impact Pledge Anniversary.
- Access the supporting veterans and military families  resources on our site.
- Participate in the Veterans Philanthropy Exchange .
- Connect with Stephanie Powers at email@example.com .
With the Obama Administration's promise to end the wars in the Middle East by 2014, close to 1.5 million veterans are returning in a compressed timeframe and are likely to overwhelm the government's ability to serve them adequately. We have consistently heard concerns from federal officials about the service provision capacity needed in communities as young veterans increasingly seek services from community providers and not from the federal government. Adding to the uniqueness of the times, unprecedented numbers of women serving in war zones and wounded warriors with brain injuries and limb loss have intensified the challenges to the traditional veterans service system. The need for ongoing specialized services and community reintegration support is now essential for their successful transition to civilian life.
In 2011, the Council was invited to join stakeholder discussions hosted by the Department of Veterans Affairs as their policy leadership grappled with how the fighting forces returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan could be successfully reintegrated back into their communities and civilian lives -- a tall order, given the numbers and the diversity of the forces. In responding to the invitation, we began to probe the issue with Council members to identify the level of interest in this policy arena. We found a solid cadre of funders with histories of working on the issues and an interest in exploring new possibilities, and not just in communities with military installations, given the repeated deployments of National Guard members from thousands of communities across the nation.
What is the role of the Council?
- Assisting the White House and policymakers in the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Defense with identifying interested foundations for their outreach purposes or policy input.
- Responding to NGOs and veterans services organizations that are looking to engage the philanthropic sector as funders and partners in community engagement and direct service provision.
- Connecting Council members with other foundations having experience in the veterans services space for guidance or to identify new collaborative efforts.
Our goal is to provide a central platform to facilitate people and organizations to find each other, not to drive a particular partnership or solution. By doing so, we can simultaneously support our public sector partnership objectives by enabling funders and policy makers to connect the dots more effectively around public resource gaps and innovation needs.