United Way of Central Alabama’s Priority Veteran Initiative, Vettes-4-Vets, and a coalition of veteran service organizations are launching a groundbreaking study on the needs of Alabama’s Veterans to be conducted by the Office for Military Families and Veterans at the University of Alabama.
A coalition of veteran organizations decided that the purpose of the study is to discover the unmet needs and gaps in available services for veterans and their families in Jefferson and Shelby counties.
About a year ago, Vettes-4-Vets board member, Jim Williams, recognized that there had never been a comprehensive needs assessment supporting the veterans community in metro Birmingham. According to Mark Davis, founder of Vettes-4-Vets, when Jim Williams has an idea about doing a study or developing new public policy, people in the state of Alabama listen. A retired Lt Colonel U.S. Army, Williams founded and served for 27 years as the Executive Director of Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama (PARCA), the state’s foremost public policy organization.
“We hope this study brings to the forefront, issues such as – do our vets need PTSD help? Do they need job training, social and medical help? We also want to look at family needs, so when a veteran has gone overseas, what does a family need when he or she is gone?” said David Albright, Director of the Office for Military Families and Veterans at the University of Alabama.
“Jefferson and Shelby County are home to some veterans who are transitioning out of military service,” stated Lula Skowronek, Director of United Way’s Priority Veteran. “That transition can be a real challenge. Even Veterans who have been out of the military for years, have to navigate a complicated system to find what services are available. What we hope to accomplish with this needs assessment is to learn what veterans and their families see as their biggest needs, and where the gaps of service are. It will help us pull together all the groups that are working with veterans and create a seamless network of services,” she added.