Each year, the nation pauses for one day in November to reflect on the sacrifices of the men and women who have worn the uniform. We remember friends and relatives no longer with us. These remembrances stir both pain and pride, recalling what was and wondering what might have been.
Communities are changed forever when a family member does not return. For some Veterans who do return home, the physical, mental, and emotional toll can be an obstacle to resuming their place in the community. And for many Veterans, returning to their community is an abrupt transition from the structure, discipline, and purpose of a military career to an ill-defined set of choices along an unfamiliar path.
We want to support our Veterans who are returning home as well as those who returned home long ago. We go to parades and ceremonies, share memories, sing patriotic hymns, and render a salute. We thank a Veteran for his or her service.
Out of gratitude for this service and sacrifice, we desire to make an impact in the lives of the Veterans, their families, and the survivors of those Veterans who do not make it home. We want to contribute. More importantly, we want to empower Veterans who want to contribute to the communities that they call home.
In Michigan, we are doing something more to honor the Veterans who have died but also to serve the 660,000 Veterans who reside in the state of Michigan. The 83 counties that make up the Upper and Lower Peninsulas of Michigan have been organized into 10 Prosperity Regions. With the support of the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency (MVAA), Altarum Institute is facilitating the creation and sustainment of regional Veterans Community Action Teams (VCAT). To date, these 10 VCATs represent more than 1,200 organizations and 1,500 service providers and are affecting Michigan Veterans, families, and survivors every day and across the entire state.
With MVAA, the goal of each VCAT project is to eliminate the “wrong door” for Veterans seeking needed services and support. Whenever and wherever a Veteran contacts a VCAT member, he or she is in touch with a service provider committed to providing a comprehensive solution that addresses the needs of the Veteran and his or her family. With the support of a strong and expanding network of service providers, Veterans find that there is “No Wrong Door” when they contact a VCAT member.
Along with the commitment to “No Wrong Door,” VCAT members are committed to the “Warm Handoff.” Veterans seeking services are not left with a phone number and a hollow “Good luck.” VCAT members work with Veterans and their families to identify and obtain the needed solution. Whether it happens virtually or in person, VCAT members accompany the Veterans as they navigate a bewildering array of benefits and services.
In essence, all hands are on deck for every Veteran in need, and the VCAT provider’s job is not done until every Veteran is completely served. Whether you are a Veteran, a service provider, or someone else who will be observing Veterans Day, thank you for honoring those who have served. If you would like to honor Veterans every day, join your community’s VCAT. How? Contact Michigan VCAT Project at 1-877-776-5187 or one of MVAA’s Regional Coordinators. Veterans needing support call 1-800-MICHVET for more information.