Multi-Faith Veteran Support Project
by Megan Everett, Veterans Program Officer
Veterans from all eras face a unique set of opportunities and challenges when transitioning from military service back to civilian life. When servicemembers return to their communities, it is often challenging and overwhelming to navigate the various services and matching them to their own needs. Faith is a natural place for people to turn to in times of need. It is this pre-existing infrastructure that has prompted the faith-based and the social service communities to come together to help veterans and their families.
In fall 2014, faith-based leaders, mental health practitioners, veteran service providers, pastoral care practitioners and other interested parties came together to launch the Multi-Faith Veterans Support Project (MVP), a new effort to pilot projects that will enhance the quality of life for veterans and their families. The Steans Center's Egan Office for Urban Education and Community Partnerships at DePaul University is collaborating with the Robert R. McCormick Foundation to support the initiative.
Since the launch of MVP, Apostolic Church of God in the Woodlawn neighborhood and the Arthur Lockhart Resource Institute in the Austin neighborhood have been identified as the first two partner communities.
MVP’s strategic approach is as follows:
- Integrate the faith-based community with the local networks of social service providers to strengthen community coordination around veterans and veteran family issues.
- Develop a spiritual care curriculum that equips and trains faith leaders to understand and address the needs of veterans and their families such as moral injury and post-traumatic stress disorder.
- Raise awareness about faith-based resources available to veterans.
MVP will work with four partner communities in Chicago, geographically defined, to employ this strategic approach. The effort seeks to honor religious diversity while strengthening relationships across faith communities, behavioral health and veterans.
John Zeigler, Director of the Egan Office for Urban Education and Community Partnerships
Dr. Troy Harden, Research Associate, Egan Office for Urban Education and Community Partnerships and Professor Chicago State University
Pastor Oluwatoyin Hines, Ministry Coordinator, Multi-Faith Veteran Support Project