Communities Connect is a network of congregations and non-profit organizations serving veterans and their families. Research demonstrates that when a community is trained to have a greater awareness of veterans’ issues along with community-based organization to support the veterans, the veteran is less likely to commit suicide and is more able to re-integrate successfully back into their communities.1
Churches and Organizations who join Communities Connect receive a variety of resources, including:
- An annual gathering to network with other churches and organizations, and to receive additional training and resources material.
- Certification as a Veteran Friendly church or organization.
- Network through a national online forum with others serving veterans, coordinated through our national affiliate Care for the Troops.
Communities Connect also offers a more extensive training to reach out in ministry to veterans. This training combines education, organization, oversight, and outreach to strengthen a community’s support to veterans, and includes:
- Participating in a facilitated three-hour workshop to build awareness of the challenges faced by members of the armed forces and their families as they return from deployment,
- Appointing and training a Steering Committee,
- Cataloging available, local services for veterans, and
- Developing an actionable support plan which includes planning outreach activities for veterans and their families by integrating military, veteran, state and local community organizations, and other professionals to create a broad range of resources and to build a strong and responsive network of services.
At the end of the Communities Connect program, the Brookfield Institute designates communities as “veteran outreach certified.” In order to retain this status, annual attendance at a workshop is required, along with a discussion of the strategies that were implemented over the last year, their effectiveness, the number of veterans reached and served, and goal-setting for the next year of the program.
1 Brenner, L., Homaifar, B., et al. Suicidality and veterans with a history of traumatic brain injury: Precipitating events, protective factors, and prevention strategies. Rehabilitation Psychology:Vol 54(4), Nov 2009, 390-397.