Transitioning servicemembers and their families just got a huge boost of assistance from two unlikely characters: Walmart and Syracuse University. The Walmart Foundation donated $5 million to the Universities’ Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF). Those dollars will be used to bring a “one stop shop” for military and veterans families in a growing number of cities across the United States.
The program is called AmericaServes. Many assume that employment is the single greatest challenge as military moves into civilian life. But recent research from the Institute for Veteran and Military Families found that 60% of servicemembers and veterans identified navigating benefits and services as the most significant challenge in transition.
AmericaServes was built around the military insight that most families are familiar with the structure of military life. That structure eases navigation and builds trust that services will be provided at the right point and the right time. When servicemembers transition out into civilian life, there’s no template or map to guide them to the right services. Because of this families often struggle to get the needed assistance to improve their quality of life.
The AmericaServes program provides access to a network of human service providers working together in local communities to ensure that accurate and timely referrals are made to veterans, service members and their families. The goal of collaborations with local service providers is to help facilitate a successful transition and stabilization, and access to benefits and services for veterans and their families.
“The single, greatest opportunity before us is to create significant impact for the veteran community around systems navigation—or better connecting veterans and their families to the wealth of government, nonprofit and other resources available to them,” commented Mike Haynie of IVMF.
Walmart is walking the walk with respect to the military. The Walmart Foundation has donated $40 million between 2011 and 2019 to fund organizations veteran non-profits. Kathleen McLaughlin, chief sustainability officer at Walmart and president of the Walmart Foundation commented that, “Veterans and military families benefit when local providers coordinate their care based on a shared vision of success. That’s why the Walmart Foundation supports IVMF as they expand their AmericaServes collective impact model in to new areas of the country and help thousands more veterans.”