Public-Private Partnership: Difficult but Essential to Serving Veterans

Government officials, philanthropists, and foundation staff often discuss the importance of providing services to our veterans and their families. However, we don’t often link the importance of those services to protecting the all voluntary military force. Today’s working lunch emphasized the importance of supporting our volunteers and then did a deeper dive on exactly how we do that through public-private partnership.

The McCormick Foundation shared their experience partnering with Major League Baseball Charities on the Welcome Back Veterans program. The program connects returning veterans to services, especially PTSD treatment.

The San Diego Grantmakers Association recognized that their role in veterans support was to be a neutral convener that brings people together to do stuff better and then to share what they learned so that the community can keep improving their work.

The Lincoln Community Foundation shared how a 2010 Council on Foundations conference speaker’s call to action to reach out to veterans informed the work they are presenting on at this year’s conference. They reminded us that community foundations must know who their veterans are before we can serve them.

The Philanthropy Roundtable’s Thomas Meyer reminded us that veterans are assets to our communities and that when we connect with them to utilize their knowledge and talents, we strengthen our community.

Sharing our work led to honest group discussion regarding what public-private partners need to know about each other to work together toward common goals.

Col. James Isenhower III, Director, Warrior and Family Support Office reassured community foundations that the military recognizes public-private partnership is an effective way to serve members of the military who are transitioning into civilian life. He shared examples of successful partnerships and recognized the challenges of adapting public and private sector systems to create collaborative programs. Col. Isenhower announced a White Paper reflecting his comments and the Warrior and Family Support Office’s commitment to public-private partnership.

With honest dialogue and commitment among our public-private partners to question and improve our systems for working together, the session ended on a hopeful note that public-private partnership will get easier and demonstrate greater impact if we all commit to celebrating successes and working through challenges together. The Council will continue to support the work of our members by creating an online Community of Practice for Veterans Philanthropy.

Lara Kalwinski is Policy & Strategy Associate, Director of National Standards at the Council on Foundations.

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