Wisconsin servicemen and servicewomen returning home in hopes of a smooth transition from service to society are faced with the worst economy in decades, shrinking or closed businesses and few, if any, employment opportunities.
Still other Wisconsin veterans are having difficulty returning to society because they are lost in a morass of bureaucratic entanglements often exacerbated by complications associated with physical injury, post-traumatic stress (PTSD) or the unforeseen triggers of an undiagnosed traumatic brain injury (TBI) or a traumatic eye injury (TEI).
Recently, a group of Wisconsin veterans created the Wisconsin Veterans Foundation Inc. (WVF), an organization whose sole purpose is to assist Wisconsin veterans in need.
The Wisconsin Veterans Foundation Inc is a nonprofit, charitable (501(c)(3)) organization whose mission is to either prevent Wisconsin veterans from falling through the cracks or assisting them when they have. To meet our mission, the foundation has three main goals: provide financial assistance, education and networking.
Meeting our mission oftentimes comes in the form of providing financial assistance with long overdue rent, unpaid mortgages, groceries, utilities, car repairs, gas and more. However, the foundation provides more than an answer to acute financial need. The foundation’s acute financial assistance requires the Wisconsin veteran to submit his or her request through their county’s veteran service officer. This step ensures that the Wisconsin veteran is connected to the veteran centric service in their county, especially his or her community.
Transition from service to society often requires education – the foundation’s second goal. The foundation recognizes the need for three types of education. First, education of Wisconsin veterans may be: a) vocational, technical or professional education to develop or complete a skills complement that matches today’s and tomorrow’s employment and career opportunities; b) learning how to translate military skills and experiences into civilian career opportunities; or c) learn how to translate an entrepreneurial idea into reality.
Second, education may come in the form of society adjusting to veterans, especially Wisconsin’s thousands of employers. Some employers are committed to hiring veterans, but do not know how to make adjustments for the qualified veteran who has served multiple deployments, the physically challenged veteran or the veteran employee with invisible scars associated with post-traumatic stress (PTSD), undiagnosed traumatic brain injury (TBI) even traumatic eye injury (TEI).
The foundation is ready to educate employers to the resources and tools available to adjust and keep a Wisconsin veteran competitively employed.
Finally, the foundation sees the need to educate the professional community addressing a myriad of physical and psychological issues impacting the veteran along with the veteran’s family going through a difficult transition from service to society. The foundation is serving as both a clearinghouse on research and the latest methodologies in treating veterans and veterans’ families faced with the challenges of PTSD, TBI, TEI and physical injuries.
The third goal of the foundation is networking. The foundation continues to reach out or network electronically, professionally and personally to veterans, veteran organizations, veteran support groups and veteran-centered programs and services, representatives of local, state and federal government, employers including associations, organizations and foundations representing employers markets, medical and psychological researchers, practitioners and their associations.
Our intent in networking is two-fold. First, to provide the most up-to-date network on veterans for veterans. Second, to provide linkages for professionals doing research to support veterans and those professionals applying that research and other techniques supporting the veterans transition from service to society. Combined this networking goal will serve as the basis for a biennial symposium aimed specifically on research and practice on successfully transitioning veterans from service to society.
To accomplish our mission and goals, the Wisconsin Veterans Foundation Inc. needs financial assistance from individuals and more importantly Wisconsin’s business community. Whether financial support through corporate contributions or donations, competitive business, corporate or foundation grants; the foundation is prepared to do that which is necessary to make Wisconsin’s veterans transition from service to society smooth and successful.
At present, our financial needs far exceed our ability to respond. Moreover, our educational goals far exceed our financial resources and our ability to establish a comprehensive network. However, in cooperation with Wisconsin’s businesses, the Wisconsin Veterans Foundation Inc. can ensure Wisconsin’s veterans full and complete transition from service to society.
James Mullarkey is the board secretary of Wisconsin Veterans Foundation Inc. For additional information, visit www.wisconsinveteransfoundation.org or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.