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Driving Community Impact: The Case for Local, Evidence-Based Coordination in Veteran and Military Family Services and the AmericaServes Initiative

There is a clear and persistent gap in services for veterans and military families across America. Contrary to what most might expect, however, this gap is far from a lack of public concern, resources, or programmatic effort, rather a lack of collaboration, coordination, and collective purpose.

Despite the wealth of resources and opportunities, some veterans lag behind the general population in key health and wellness indicators and remain vulnerable to financial, employment, relationship, and legal-related difficulties, as well as homelessness and substance abuse in their transition back to civilian life. The government’s efforts, while necessary and valuable, do not fully position veterans for success following their military service. Many challenges are influenced by social and local factors—i.e., the “social determinants of health”—and are beyond the health care system’s reach. The private and nonproft sectors are often better positioned to address such challenges.

Through collective impact, an innovative and proven approach to cross-sector collaboration, organizations can tackle complex social problems and accomplish what no single organization can alone. We argue that collective impact presents an opportunity for communities, in partnership with the VA, other government agencies, and private industry, to improve outcomes for veterans, transitioning service members, and their families.

 

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