Did you know that Hampton Roads boasts a population of over 400,000 service members, veterans and their families? And though we’d like to think that our military and veterans aren’t suffering from homelessness, unemployment, medical issues or financial troubles, the truth proves otherwise.
Two years ago, a support group for the Hampton Roads naval community approached the United Way of South Hampton Roads with a problem to solve. They reported the clients they service were having significant trouble finding help from the plethora of human services agencies here in Hampton Roads. Sure enough, after lots of research and interviews, we found this to be true. Even though many organizations offered wonderful resources, there was very little coordination, collaboration and case management between them all. It was, at best, frustrating for a client to find help with one issue. When they had multiple issues to deal with (which is often the case) the frustration level increased proportionately.
Meanwhile in Florida, the United Way of Broward County had launched a program called Mission United. It was a comprehensive system of support that specifically aligned community resources to better suit the needs of their veterans. A team from Hampton Roads traveled there to learn more about the program. They decided, after a few days, that Hampton Roads needed something similar.
After further discussions with military and veteran leaders, we realized that our Mission United couldn’t just serve our veterans — it needed to also include our active duty population. After all, Hampton Roads is the largest military community on the globe. The world’s largest naval base is here, as well as military bases representing all the other branches of the Armed Forces. The huge size of the potential client base made it obvious that a technological solution was needed. We found and partnered with veteran-owned tech firm Unite Us. Their unique, web-based platform offers those seeking assistance online a one-stop, do-it-yourself way to get help. Those without Internet access can also get the warm hug of wrap-around community resources by calling Mission United’s case managers. They’re always happy to enter clients into the system, and track their progress to a positive outcome.
Mission United Hampton Roads officially launched on Veterans Day, Nov. 11, 2016. We are proud to dedicate ourselves to serving the military and veteran community. To date, we’ve connected over 200 service members, veterans and their families with the organizations who can provide direct assistance – whether that’s putting food on the table, assisting with a job search, providing legal counsel, medical support or financial advise.
We’ve made a big impact in the lives of those we’ve served, in the short time that we’ve been helping out. But there’s much work still to be done. We can make Hampton Roads the most military-friendly place in the nation by bringing everyone together through collaboration of services, volunteer opportunities and enhancing the conversation on veteran and military issues.
There are two ways for veterans, service members and military families to get help from Mission United Hampton Roads. Visitors to missionunited-hr.org can enter themselves into the system. Or you can call 757-858-7777 Mon.-Fri. 8:30a.m.-4:30p.m. to actually chat with a real, live case manager who will enter you into the system. Either way, the Mission United case manager will follow your progress to make sure you get the help you not only need, but deserve.