Single-point service will connect veterans and their families to social, health and wellness services in Allegheny, Butler and Westmoreland counties
As part of its continued support of military veterans and their families, The Heinz Endowments today announced a $300,000 grant to the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University (IVMF) to create PAServes, a single-point service to connect veterans and their families in Allegheny, Butler and Westmoreland counties to social, health and wellness services.
PAServes is the first program of its scope in the Pittsburgh region, made possible through collaboration between 45 local organizations that provide a comprehensive range of support and advisory services, from housing and job assistance to healthcare referrals for the more than 200,000 veterans who live in southwestern Pennsylvania.
PAServes will launch on October 1, 2015, and will be administered locally by Pittsburgh Mercy Health System (PMHS). PMHS was selected from a pool of applicants by a consortium of veterans’ service organizations, non-profits and public and private community leaders convened by The Heinz Endowments.
“Our returning servicemen and women deserve the best, not a tangle of bureaucracy in which they too easily and too often get lost,” said Grant Oliphant, President of The Heinz Endowments. “PAServes represents a new approach to providing comprehensive support services for veterans that are relevant and easy to navigate. This program model has a proven and successful track record that will provide effective resources to help veterans find the support they need for themselves and their families, including housing, jobs, opportunities and healthcare.”
Mr. Oliphant said that even those veterans who had previously lived in the Pittsburgh region currently experience difficulty after returning from service in navigating a complex web of services and providers involving a multitude of websites and organizations. “PAServes will streamline services and encourage communication and collaboration between agencies that serve veterans, so that they can easily find the support they need,” he added.
PAServes follows similar efforts led by IVMF in New York, N.Y. (NYCServes) and more recently, in North Carolina (NCServes). Launched in late 2014, NYCServes has reached 883 veterans and family members seeking employment, housing, legal, education and Veterans Administration benefits information, among others. Available data shows 65 percent of inquiries have come from veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In a report from the Center for a New American Security to be released later this year, preliminary findings suggest that just 38 percent of veterans in southwestern Pennsylvania say they are satisfied with services in their area. The report cited area veterans saying they knew about services in their communities, but had a lower degree of confidence in those services. The full report is scheduled to be published this fall.
The goal of PAServes is to help veterans, including returning servicemen and women, become engaged, be empowered and to continue to be assets within their communities by providing wrap-around services. Veterans and their family members can access the network of providers, online at paserves.org, and in-person through the PAServes Coordination Center at PMHS or during a meeting with one of the network providers.
“This is a group of organizations who came together with the number one goal to help vets. Before this, it was every veteran, and every organization, for himself or herself,” said Megan Andros, U.S. Army veteran and program officer for the Endowments. “We are proud and delighted to partner with the IVMF, whose experience with veterans and creating coordinating centers will be welcome in Pittsburgh.
“We are also pleased to house the program with Mercy Health, whose thoughtful work with veterans in southwestern Pennsylvania will allow them to quickly become engaged with a population we know must reintegrate successfully for the benefit of our region.”
The public, private and not-for-profit organizations that are part of PAServes joined the collaboration based on their commitment to transparency and communication. They include Robert Morris University and their veteran-student programs, The Mission Continues, which provides service and community outreach opportunities to veterans and Neighborhood Legal Services.
“All over the country, transitioning service members, veterans and their families tell us that piecemeal efforts pose as the number one challenge to their ability to successfully reintegrate into their local communities. Given southwestern Pennsylvania’s large veteran population and the willingness of public, private, and nonprofit providers to come together in service, we’re pleased to be able to support the community’s efforts to deploy a technology-enabled case management ecosystem aimed at eradicating the prevailing fragmented approach,” said Col. (ret.) James McDonough, managing director of community engagement and innovation for IVMF.
Since May 2013, The Heinz Endowments has given more than $2.5 million to organizations that work to improve veteran’s lives in southwestern Pennsylvania, and help to promote conversation around the value of veterans in the workplace and the community.
- Leadership Pittsburgh, connecting area veterans to civic leadership and engagement opportunities and positioning veterans as community assets.
- United Services Organization, giving veterans financial planning services and budgeting advice.
- Team Red White and Blue, providing community to veterans through social events and physical exercise.
About Pittsburgh Mercy Health System
Pittsburgh Mercy Health System (PMHS), a part of Trinity Health, serving in the tradition of the Sisters of Mercy, is one of the region’s largest health and social service nonprofits and also one of its largest employers. PMHS includes McAuley Ministries, Mercy Behavioral Health, Mercy Community Health, Mercy Intellectual Disabilities Services, Mercy Parish Nurse and Health Ministry Program, Operation Safety Net®, and Pittsburgh Mercy Family Health Center. Together, these PMHS programs and its 1,700 employees serve more than 26,000 individuals annually at more than 60 locations in Southwestern Pennsylvania. To learn more about PMHS or to make a donation in support of its important work in the community, visit www.pmhs.org.
About the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF)
The IVMF is the first interdisciplinary national institute in higher education focused on the social, economic, education and policy issues impacting veterans and their families post-service. Through our focus on veteran-facing programming, research and policy, employment and employer support, and community engagement, the institute provides in-depth analysis of the challenges facing the veteran community, captures best practices and serves as a forum to facilitate new partnerships and strong relationships between the individuals and organizations committed to making a difference for veterans and military families. Learn more about IVMF at http://vets.syr.edu.
For information contact:
The Heinz Endowments
412 338 2657
Linda K. Ross
Pittsburgh Mercy Health System
412 578 6224
412 667 0027 (cell)
Wayne A. Westervelt
Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF)
315 443 5690
315 558 9483