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Taylor Colliau

Illinois Joining Forces Hosts Inaugural Community Showcase

Contact: Tamara Edwards tamara@tamaraedwards.co
Date: Friday, December 15th
Illinois Joining Forces hosts Inaugural Community Showcase
Statewide not-for-profit brings public-private network of military and veteran serving organizations together to improve services for Service Members, Veterans and their Families
CHICAGO – More than 60 Veteran-support stakeholders gathered at the Pritzker Military Museum and Library in Chicago on December 6th for the Illinois Joining Forces’ (IJF) inaugural Community Showcase. The event was held in an effort to bring military and veteran serving organizations and corporate partners together to improve services for Illinois’ service members, veterans and their families.
The program opened with welcome remarks from IJF Co-Chairs Kevin Smith and Steve Goodwin, and was followed by a 2018 IJF Progress Report from IJF’s Executive Director, Jaime Martinez and highlighted 2018 successes with new Growth and Wellness programs and the creation of IJF Veteran Support Communities throughout the state. Later, Martinez led an interactive panel discussion with Stephen Curda, Acting Director of Illinois’ Department of Veterans’ Affairs (IDVA), and Erica Borggren, the former Director of IDVA and current VP of Customer Solutions at ComEd. The panel discussion, titled, ‘The Role of State Agencies and Resources to the Military and Veteran Community’ encouraged attendees to participate in the conversation about improving access to public and private services for veterans, and identify opportunities for greater collaboration and partnership.
Throughout the afternoon, the Showcase offered networking opportunities and a simulated micro-workshop, intended to further develop and integrate attendees with the reality of the challenges Illinois’ Veterans’ Services Organizations face every day.
In attendance were representatives from The McCormick Foundation, GPD Charitable Trust, Walgreens, ComEd, The Boeing Company, Edelman, The Road Home Program (Rush), Corporate America Supports You (CASY),
USO – Illinois, National Able Network, Bunker Labs, The Code Platoon, Student Veterans of America – Illinois, Dry Hooch Peer to Peer Programs, Pritzker Military Museum and Library, the United States Department of Veteran Affairs, Illinois Department of Veteran Affairs, and the Illinois Department of Military Affairs.
Martinez celebrated the success of the event, stating “IJF’s inaugural community showcase brought together business, government, and community leaders from across the Prairie State to focus on a singular goal: how we can better serve Illinois’ 650,000 Veterans and their families. We know that no one organization can do it all, and IJF remains committed to assisting military members and veterans as they navigate the processes of finding the organizations that can best meet their needs. Supporting community network models and focusing on aging veterans, rural veteran access, and empowering women veterans this past year could not be possible without the generous support of numerous private and corporate partners and their continued commitment to the IJF vision and model. The overwhelming response from the business and veteran-support community has been incredible and we look forward to continuing to build bridges to better serve our nation’s heroes in the future”

Roseann Darabaris to Join Illinois Joining Forces Board of Directors

We are excited to announce the appointment of Roseann Darabaris to the Illinois Joining Forces Board of Directors as a Civic Leader who will be assisting Board of Director members and Foundation staff in support of their daily mission.

As a civilian, Roseann has been a passionate and staunch supporter of our Military Veterans for a number of years. She actively organizes events and volunteers time to local VAs, sends Troop care packages to deployed Military overseas, and has been a volunteer for Honor Flight since April 2009. Five years ago, she became a member of Accenture’s Military Employee Resource Group (MERG). Roseann was asked to be the Chicago Office MERG Co-Lead in May 2014, Chicago Office MERG Lead in May 2015 and in December 2016 the MERG Midwest Region Lead covering seven offices. Her MERG responsibilities are all volunteer in nature, and she helps to facilitate mentoring, drive Veteran networking and collaboration and identify Veteran events that fit into Accenture’s Corporate Citizenship program structure focusing on strengthening our People, Market & Community.

She has been an active participant and fundraiser for the past three years for the Chicago Veterans Ruck March which raises funds for Veteran PTSD and suicide awareness programs.

Roseann graduated from Illinois State University in 1992 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Public Relations and a Minor in Sociology. She has over 20 years of experience as an Account Executive selling Software Applications and Technology primarily across the North America.

Meet our Coordination Center Specialists

Illinois Joining Forces (IJF) works to help Illinois veterans navigate the vast resources available to them throughout the state, by connecting them with the organizations that are best suited to meet their individual needs. IJF’s mission would not be possible without the help of the remarkable Coordination Center staff members – William E. Bryant III and Michael Smith.

William E Bryant III

“I really enjoy helping veterans in their time of need.”

William E. Bryant III. served in the United States Marine Corps, working as a heavy equipment mechanic from 1982 – 1985. He separated from the Marine Corps one year early due to vision loss. William has been diagnosed as legally blind since 1992, and he has been working with Illinois Joining Forces for approximately 2 years at the Coordination Center.

 

Michael Smith

“I am proud to be of service to all the men and women who have served our country.”

Michael Smith is a US Navy veteran who served for eight years with an Honorable Discharge. He was a Communications specialist aboard the USS Midway CV-41 stationed in Yokosuka, Japan, the USS Fresno LST-1182 stationed in San Diego, California, the USS John Young DD-973 stationed in San Diego, California, and lastly Military Sealift Command stationed in Oakland, California. Michael joined the Illinois Joining Forces coordination center team in early February 2016.


Both staff members are able to work with Illinois Joining Forces through a partnership with The Chicago Lighthouse, a world-renowned organization serving the blind, visually impaired, disabled and Veteran communities. The efforts of this organization would not be possible without the generous support of The Boeing Company.

Mike and Will shared more about their time working with IJF and their opinions on the unique services that IJF is able to provide through the Coordination Center. Mike believes that the Coordination Center’s greatest strength is

“Human touch – especially in this world now where everything is automated, it’s great that we put a live person on the other end of the line. I can feel the veteran’s anxiety level drop when they call in and hear a real person on the other end who they can talk to and who has empathy for them.”

Will also added that another strength provided by the IJF Coordination Center is the extensive experience and knowledge that he and Mike have of so many of the organizations and resources that the veterans could potentially utilize:

“It’s better than veterans trying to go online and search for resources that they aren’t familiar with. It’s great that they get to talk to us because we have lots of experience meeting veteran’s unique needs.”

The Coordination Center staff are capable of handling an array of challenges and are trained in level-one crisis management. Most veteran inquiries center around homelessness, behavioral health, and unemployment challenges; however, IJF has task forces set up to aid veterans, in-service members, and their families in even more areas. These areas include education, and health care, legal and financial support, emergency assistance, family and survivor assistance, veteran recreation and volunteer programs.

Will considers the success stories the most rewarding part of working at the Coordination Center:

“While you can’t help everyone, we do have a lot of success stories. It’s always wonderful when someone calls in looking for housing or employment, and we’ve been able to meet that need.”

Mike agrees,

“For me, the altruistic aspect of the work is the most rewarding. There is always a void that is getting filled when you are helping people. This translates when people call us back to thank us, it’s very heartfelt and they feel a level of humanity through IJF that veterans don’t always get to feel. For a long time veterans have been put on a shelf, this is one way to give them back some of the pride they should feel about the military and their service.”

Will and Mike share a deep passion and great capacity for helping veterans. They can be reached at the Illinois Joining Forces Coordination Center at 1-877-236-7702.

Maker:S,Date:2017-12-7,Ver:6,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar02,E-Y