Suzanne StringfieldVeterans Issues Require a Thoughtful and Collaborative Approach

By: Suzanne Stringfield In: Corporate Philanthropy| Partnerships and Collaborations| Philanthropy| Veterans

6 Feb 2013

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 Farmer Veteran Coalition and 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.

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.

2 Responses to Veterans Issues Require a Thoughtful and Collaborative Approach

Catharine Grimes

February 7th, 2013 at 8:59 am

Dear Suzanne,

I am a director at the Bristol-Myers Squib Foundation, and this will be our 3rd year making grants to address the mental health and community reintegration needs of our returning military service members, veterans, their families and families of the fallen. I would very much like to be included in your network of other funders who are funding in this space. I will also be attending your annual conference in April, and I hope to see a breakout session on veterans funding issues / opportunities.


Carol Ferguson

February 8th, 2013 at 11:57 am

Good morning Suzanne,

I am a donor relations officer with the Orange County Community Foundation. Together with a passionate group of donors we launched the Orange County Veterans Services Initiative (OCVSI). Through collaborative granting, OCVSI works to help returning soldiers overcome challenges and transition to civilian life. I too would like to be included in your network of funders supporting Veteran’s needs.

Yours truly,

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