Retired Army Colonel Calls for More Focused Veterans Services
Colonel David Sutherland — former Special Assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, founder of the Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Community Services, and Purple Heart recipient — writes, “When it comes to addressing the needs of returning veterans, bigger isn’t better.”
His point is this: the more than 400,000 organizations working to reintegrate military veterans have created duplications of services and a subsequent scarcity of resources. Thus, vets aren’t able to access and receive the tools and services they need. In a time that the number of service men and women returning home is rapidly increasing, Col. Sutherland explains further, “Compounding the challenge is America’s lack of firsthand familiarity with people who serve in the U.S. military.”
How do we fix the problem? Col. Sutherland urges nonprofits to consolidate efforts rather than working in isolation or creating new organizations all together. “Like-minded” military-aware individuals need to be recruited to lead and plan these programs. Finally, integrating veterans and their families into non-military-focused organizational missions will provide more appropriate and relevant services to the military community. In the meantime, “time is a wasting.”
Tommy Pearce is Communications Coordinator at the Georgia Center for Nonprofits.