Putting the community back into community reintegration

“As a nation, we’ve learned to separate the warrior from the war. But we still have much to learn about how to connect the warrior to the citizen.”
– General Martin Dempsey, 18th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

The Pentagon estimates that at the end of WWII, three out of every four Americans had a personal connection to the military. Today, this number has dropped to one in ten.* At a time when few Americans know someone who has served in the military, we don’t often talk about how we, as individual citizens, can help those coming back from deployment feel welcomed, appreciated, and valued in our community.

Thanks to the hard work of community leaders led by Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Brian Pawlowski, veteran and the Mayor’s former Deputy Chief of Staff, we now have a channel for doing more than saying, “thank you for your service,” to the veterans relocating or reintegrating into the South Bend Region. This channel, called Vets’ Community Connections (VCC), will allow community volunteers to form a comprehensive support network for veterans adjusting to post-deployment life.

After building up a referral list of community volunteers, VCC will use the City of South Bend’s 311 line to connect veterans and their families with individuals who have volunteered to assist in their area of expertise. If you are willing to pick up the phone when a veteran calls and offer advice, guidance, or direction on anything from getting medical services to finding an instructor for guitar lessons, please submit your information to the 311 referral list.

South Bend will join San Diego, CA and Maricopa County (Phoenix), AZ as one of three pilot communities for Vets’ Community Connections. We hope you will join enFocus in supporting this great initiative!

To see the South Bend Tribune’s coverage of Vets’ Community Connections, click here.

This article was originally published here.