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 to identify interested foundations for their outreach purposes or policy input.
- Responses 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.
- Responding to Council member requests to connect with other foundations having experience in the veterans services space or to identify new collaborative efforts.
Over the long term, the Council will be working to solidify a national leadership role for the philanthropic sector in this emergent national priority. We hope to augment this effort through a well networked funders' community of practice.
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.
How can you get involved?
- Participate in the Veterans Philanthropy Exchange .
- Contact with Stephanie Powers at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Access the supporting veterans and military families  resources on our site.