Veteran Family Resource Center Serves as Crucial Hub for Veteran Assistance
Any veteran who has tried to apply for benefits has felt the frustration.
“When they need help, they call somebody and then get referred to someone else at a different number and then from there keep getting sent to someone else before maybe eventually finding the right person to help them,” explained VFW National Home Program Director Angela Harkins.
When Executive Director Mike Wilson began his tenure at the Home two years ago, he knew this needed to be remedied. As a veteran himself, he understood the stress created when it’s difficult to access services.
“Resources are difficult to find and acquire, much less having to drive 25 to 50 miles to acquire them. Many of these resources will come to us if we make room for them and share their needs with them. Veterans shouldn’t need to take a day off to get to them,” said Wilson.
Now, almost a year and a half later, the Veteran Family Resource Center is in full swing on campus and serves as a one-stop shop for veterans to come and work out any issues they are having with their military careers or benefits.
VFW Auxiliary Donates Funds for Remodeling
Located in the lower level of the Health and Education Building, the VFW Auxiliary provided the funds to remodel the much-needed nerve center and community gathering place that would serve veterans all in one location.
Auxiliaries across the country raised over $20,000 to create a welcoming space that will allow veterans to apply for benefits and receive assistance with more ease than ever before.
“The National Home has always been close to our hearts. Whenever we hear that there is a specific need that has not yet been met, we rally our members who always jump to help in any way they can to raise the necessary funds,” said Ann Panteleakos, VFW Auxiliary National Secretary/Treasurer.
“We thank the VFW Auxiliary for their tremendous support,” added Harkins.
Numerous Resources Made Available
“They tell us what they need, and we get the resources,” said Harkins who adds that the center is for not only residents at the home but for veterans in the surrounding area.
Those resources are broad, including:
- A Veteran Service Officer (VSO) is at the center every Monday to help with benefit application.
- A veteran employment specialist every Thursday
- Free Income tax services
- Professional Financial Advising
- Professional mental health services
- On-staff Peer Support Specialist Rebecca Allen
- Fully equipped community room with kitchen, conference table, television, seating area, and dining area
- Once a quarter an event called “Cup of Joe” is held from 8-10 a.m. for veterans to meet and enjoy fellowship.
“As needs evolve, we will add services. Getting employment is important and we work with them on interviewing skills, resumes, and how to land a job,” said Bill Krieger, Director of the Veteran Resource Center, himself a Navy and Michigan National Guard veteran.
“It’s important that we take care of our veterans because they take care of us. They signed on the dotted line to fight for us so we should give them the help they deserve,” said Harkins.
See more photos of the Veteran & Family Resource Center on our Flickr Album.