As the daughter of a Vietnam veteran, and a veteran myself, the challenges those who serve face when they come home are topics near and dear to my heart.
There are so many ways to lean into this conversation. We can talk about mental health issues and the suicide rate within this population. According to a new report from the Department of Veterans Affairs, although the suicide rate among veterans is slightly higher than it was a decade ago, it is lower in the national context. This is because there is increased and dedicated funding to the VA by the federal government, helping to provide much-needed resources and ensuring that outreach programs, including suicide hotlines, remain robust.
We can also talk about organizations like the Operation Homefront The Farmer Veteran Coalition, founded in 2008 to help teach veterans sustainable farming and offer them a place to heal, was recently awarded a $100,000 grant from Newman’s Own Foundation. And recently, in Watertown, N.Y., Operation Homefront—with help from the Home Depot Foundation—remodeled the home of a U.S. Army soldier suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury.and
Of course, these examples do not begin to encompass the scope of activity. All across the country, philanthropy increasingly answers the call. For example, the Lincoln Community Foundation in Nebraska works tirelessly on veterans’ issues, as does The New York Community Trust and the Alcoa Foundation. In addition, the Council on Foundations’ Public Philanthropic Partnership team works with active duty partners such as the National Guard and the Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (Warrior and Family Support), as well as member foundations, to ensure that we are doing everything we can to facilitate collaboration.
Mental wellness and health initiatives, homelessness, suicide prevention, workforce solutions, training—in this context they all apply to veterans. But really, they are community issues requiring a thoughtful and collaborative approach. As part of the Council’s commitment to connecting funders doing similar work, we encourage those of you interested in veterans issues to contact us so that we can connect you with others working in this critical space.
Suzanne Stringfield is the coordinator of family philanthropy services at the Council on Foundations.