Supporting Veterans through Chicago's Faith Community
by Megan Everett, Veterans Program Director
Where does one go in times of struggle? Every person’s response is different based on their current and past experiences. This holds especially true for veterans returning home from service. The success of a veteran’s transition from military to civilian life is dependent upon a number of factors including length of service, and experiences during one’s service, family structure, resources available in the communities’ veterans are returning to, and much more. The question remains – with a varied veteran population, how can we best support successful transitions?
|Rev. Oluwatoyin Hines of the Multi-Faith |
Veteran Support Project, leading a Spiritual
Last January, I wrote about the Foundation’s partnership with the Steans Center's Egan Office for Urban Education and Community Partnerships (UECP) at DePaul University to launch the Multi-Faith Veterans Support Project (MVP). For over a year, this initiative has been working to strengthen relationships between the Chicago faith-based communities and local social service organizations as a way to help ease transitions home. I am thrilled to announce that the McCormick Foundation will continue to work with DePaul by supporting a second phase of the MVP initiative.
In the last year, DePaul has identified four faith-based organizations and communities in Chicago to anchor this work including Lockhart Resource Institute in the Austin neighborhood, Apostolic Church of God in the Woodlawn neighborhood, Endeleo Institute in the Washington Heights neighborhood, and DePaul University in the Lincoln Park neighborhood. In each neighborhood, DePaul has provided community engagement training to cultivate clergy leadership’s participation in this program and to enhance connections between the faith-based community and local VA medical centers. Each of these sites has adopted strategic plans to create networks across the faith, behavioral health, and veteran communities
In the coming year, DePaul will identify two new community engagement sites to begin equipping more faith-based organizations with the skills and training they will need to address and understand veterans’ needs. Additionally, at these sites, DePaul will develop alternative safe healing spaces for veterans and formalize their psycho-theological curriculum for spiritual care for issues of moral injury, military sexual trauma, and veteran family healing. This important work is helping to bridge the military and civilian divide, and allowing veterans to receive both spiritual support and the health and social services they may need.