Serving TogetherWe’ve all been there—waiting on hold to talk to a ‘customer service representative,’ endlessly navigating Google for answers to questions we haven’t formed yet, and getting frustrated and tired getting the run around when all we want is someone to listen. Like veterans across the country, Northern Virginia veterans deal with these inefficiencies all the time when trying to access healthcare, benefits, or employment services that, frankly, I feel they have earned. 

Oftentimes communities think that all veterans can and do utilize federal healthcare and benefits. In reality, many do not for a variety of reasons.  Since 2011, my team and I have been working to create an improved resource system for military, veterans and their families through a project called Serving Together.  If you’ve read this far, you’re likely thinking, “Great. But what does that really mean?”  It means that we are working with existing programs and organizations in our communities—where we live, work and play—to make sure those who have ever served in the Armed Forces are familiar with and know how to contact local programs.

In the military, a lot of decisions are made for you—where to live, what to wear, where you’ll work.  So, transitioning to civilian life, whether it is after 4 years or 20 years of military service, is entry into a new set of experiences.  Once a person has separated from the military they are forced to make some serious life decisions relatively quickly like, employment, living situation, education, and healthcare.  These already tough decisions can sometimes be compounded by anxiety, depression, brain injury, or traumatic experiences.  The seemingly simple task of finding a job can quickly spiral into relationship problems, financial challenges, and risk of homelessness.   Serving Together has been working in Montgomery County to get transitioning military and veterans to ‘know us before you need us.’  Looking for employment assistance? Want to know who to call to talk about G.I Bill benefits? Having trouble paying your rent?  We see it as our responsibility to be the local experts on where veterans and their families can call to talk with a human being and get connected to services they need and want!

We are so excited to bring Serving Together into Northern Virginia, thanks to a grant from the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia.  With more than 170,000[1] veterans in the region and more than 3,500[2] nonprofits, not including County and City programs or state government, there are many connections to be made.  The great work is already being done, we just want to make sure more are connected.  At the end of the day, the communication and partnerships are for those who have served our country.  See you soon!

You can follow and connect with us online at;; and through Twitter @ServingTogether. 

[1] Deloitte Development LLC, Community Foundation for Northern Virginia, United Way of the National Capital Area. “Supporting Our Region’s Veterans.” 2014.

[2] Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society studies, The Community Foundation Serving Richmond and Central Virginia, and Virginia Commonwealth University. “Virginia’s Nonprofit Sector: Shaping the Economic, Cultural and Social Landscape.” 2012.