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Veteran News

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”

Veterans Choice Program Law Changes

On April,19 2017, The President signed a law that removes the August 7, 2017 expiration date and allows VA to utilize funding dedicated to the Veterans Choice Program (VCP) until it is exhausted.

The VCP is a critical program that increases access to care for Veterans by authorizing millions of appointments for Veterans in the community.

The fact sheet below highlights the three changes made to the VCP. You can also view the fact sheet by clicking this link: Choice Extension Fact Sheet FINAL

Choice Extension Fact Sheet FINAL_Page_1 Choice Extension Fact Sheet FINAL_Page_2

Veterans Groups Hope More Money Will Lead To Better Care

Some Illinois veterans groups want to know how the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs would spend the additional $4.4 million proposed in President Donald Trump’s 2018 budget.

The budget blueprint states the president wants “to improve patient access and timeliness of medical care” for the nine million veterans who use the system.

That’s good news for veterans like Lynn Lowder, CEO of 1 Veteran at a Time, an Aurora-based organization that promotes veteran entrepreneurship.

“Anything we can do to help the VA to do their job better is a good thing,” Lowder said. “But just because you are going to increase the budget by ‘X’ percent, doesn’t necessarily equate to a better form of healthcare.”

Lowder, a Vietnam War veteran and a retired lawyer, said he wants to know where the increased spending would go, and how it will be spent by the VA.

“It’s the quality of the healthcare, and the responsiveness of it, that makes an enormous difference to veterans,” Lowder said.

Lowder, 71, said getting access to care can be a challenge, and veterans often require help navigating the system.

It’s unclear how the VA will specifically use the added money if it is approved by Congress. A spokesman for the agency could not be reached for comment.

“I sincerely hope that a portion of the new funding is going to be designated to support programs for not just veterans but military families and the caregivers as well because they play an important part in the lives of the veterans, especially those who are recovering from injuries,” said Ken Barber, who is head of the Chicago-based nonprofit Illinois Joining Forces. The group works to connect veterans with services, including healthcare.

Barber, a Navy veteran, said he would welcome the funding boost because “veterans deserve the best care and support that this country can provide.”

“I think this funding will result in more resources being available to veterans within their community. That means resources like Illinois Joining Forces are more important that ever,” Barber said. “Illinois Joining Forces ensures that veterans can identify the resources that are available to meet their needs within their particular communities and helping them navigate the pool of all the resource providers out there. That’s going to be just as important as having funding behind those resources.”

Illinois is home to more than 700,000 veterans, according to the Illinois Department of Veteran Affairs.

To see the original article, please follow this link.