Resource Spotlight

Additions to the following mini-profiles will be made each week. Click on the highlighted names of the resources at the top of the profile to visit their websites. To view or return to our main Resources listing, click here.

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS

Veterans Crisis Line
If a Veteran is experiencing a crisis, they can call the Veteran Crisis Center at 800-273-8255 and press 1. The service is toll-free and operates 24 hours a day. There is also the National Center of Excellence for Veterans and their Families at RUSH. Located at the RUSH Medical Center, their ROAD Home Program provides comprehensive, evidence-based treatment in a safe and supportive environment. These services are provided in Chicago, the western suburbs and downstate Effingham. A three-week National Intensive Outpatient Program is also available for the treatment of post-traumatic stress.  These services are provided regardless of military discharge status or your ability to pay.
— CDR Joe Troiani, U.S. Navy (retired)

Vet Centers
The United States Department of Veterans Affairs has been running Vet Centers since 1979. These community-based counseling centers provide a wide range of social and psychological services, including professional readjustment counseling to eligible Veterans and active duty service members, including National Guard and Reserve components, and their families. Vet Centers are staffed by counselors and outreach personnel, many of whom are Veterans themselves. They are experienced and prepared to discuss loss, grief, the tragedies of war and transition after trauma. Individual, group, marriage and family counseling are offered in addition to referral and connection to other VA or community benefits and services. The Vet Centers provide free and confidential counseling and services to all Veterans. A Veteran’s problem does not need to be service-connected and they may be able to receive care even if they are not eligible for other VA services.
— Joseph E. Troiani, Ph.D., Commander, U.S. Navy (retired)

VA Podcasts
There are a number of podcasts available for veterans, and the VA Podcast Network is a great place to begin. The VA Podcast Network focuses on informative, news-related, interview-style shows that share stories and spotlight resources and benefits available to veterans. The network’s seven podcasts to date cover a variety of themes, including the challenges that veterans face after their service to recent innovations at VA hospitals. Each episode of the “My Life, My Story,” podcast, for example, tells the stories of VA hospital patients, such as Korean War veteran Daniel, who was a prisoner of war in Korea for an astonishing 38 months.
— James Scalzitti

ANIMAL SERVICES

K9s For Warriors
K9s for Warriors rescues and trains shelter dogs to be paired with veterans with service-connected PTSD, traumatic brain injury and/or sexual trauma. The organization accepts applications from veterans and active-duty service members from all 50 states. Veterans stay at one of the group’s residential training facilities in Florida for a 21-day canine training program. The service dog as well as the training, certification, legal instruction and a lifetime of wraparound services are provided to the veteran free of charge.
— James Scalzitti

Lutheran Church Charities Kare 9 Military Ministry
The Lutheran Church Charities Kare 9 Military Ministry visits VFWs, VA Hospitals, care centers and the residences of the homebound with trained dogs who provide comfort and stress-relief to veterans and active military members. Part of Lutheran Church Charities, the ministry does not charge for its services. Veterans organizations, individuals, schools and other groups can request an in-person visit from the LCC Kare 9 dogs and their handlers, and virtual visits are also available.
— James Scalzitti

Tony LaRussa’s Animal Rescue Foundation Pets and Vets
In 1991, then-Oakland A’s manager Tony LaRussa and his wife Elaine founded ARF to rescue dogs and cats before they ran out of time at high-kill shelters. ARF initiated its Pets and Vets program in 2011, offering free dog and cat adoptions for military Veterans. The Pets and Vets program now also transforms rescue dogs into skilled service animals for Veterans. More than 50 service animals have graduated from Pets and Vets training, and even more emotional support animals are providing love and comfort to scores of Veteran companions. ARF’s new 7,900-square-foot headquarters for Pets and Vets is scheduled to open in 2021.
— James Scalzitti

CAREER

Job Hero
Whether you’ve been retired for years or have just finished your service, rejoining the workforce can be tough. There are a lot of places to find assistance in your transition from service to career if you know where to look. The career assistance portal, JobHero.com, has compiled a guide with links to sites from trusted organizations that connecting Veterans to a wealth of information, advice, tools and programs that offer real-world help.
— James Scalzitti

DISCOUNTS

Veterans Canteen Service
Veterans Canteen Service is a self-sustaining part of the Department of Veterans Affairs. Its mission is to provide Veterans enrolled in the VA’s health care system, their families and caregivers, VA employees, volunteers and visitors with reasonably priced merchandise and services. VCS members can access exclusive deals on hundreds of premium brands in categories such as apparel, footwear, prescription eyewear, tires, travel and entertainment tickets and electronics. There are locations at VA benefits offices nationwide. Online shopping is also available. Similar to the military exchange system, a portion of proceeds at the canteens goes back into services for Veterans.
— James Scalzitti

EDUCATION & TRAINING

Café Liberty
Café Liberty assists veterans who are unemployed or underemployed and looking to enter the culinary field. This program professionally trains participants for a lifetime career in the food service industry and can serve as a bridge to an advanced culinary institution. The 11-week program at Café Liberty’s Wheaton training facility is offered up to four times per year with between eight and 10 participants in each class. Adult family members of veterans are also accepted into the program. Classes are temporarily suspended due to the pandemic, but applications are being accepted for future classes.
— James Scalzitti

HEALTH & WELL-BEING

Guitars for Vets
Veterans afflicted with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder are finding hope in an unlikely place: behind the wood and strings of an acoustic guitar. Rooted in the healing power of music, Guitars for Vets provides veterans with guitars and a forum to learn how to play. Through the teamwork and camaraderie of G4V, veterans can join a community where they learn to play guitar and find solace in the songs they love as well as those they have yet to write. Monthly group sessions are organized at each of G4V’s many local chapters to provide Veterans with a communal atmosphere to talk and play music with peers who have shared similar experiences.
— James Scalzitti

Road Home Program at Rush University Medical Center
The Road Home Program at Rush University Medical Center provides mental health care to veterans, service members and their families. Veterans of all eras, regardless of discharge status, are eligible at no cost. Virtual and in-person outpatient services are available, including treatment of PTSD, military sexual trauma, mental health challenges and family programming. We also offer support groups. Our program strives to empower veterans by focusing on immediate symptom reduction, long-term recovery and permanent lifestyle changes. Our mission is to provide clients with the skills and tools needed to build healthy, meaningful relationships and productive lives.
— James Scalzitti

The Way Back Inn and Grateful House
The Way Back Inn and Grateful House serve adult men and women who are suffering from alcohol, drug and gambling dependence. The overall goal is to help clients achieve continuous sobriety. Every client is treated with dignity and respect. Their mission is to rebuild lives damaged by addiction in a personalized healing environment in which men and women’s lives are transformed and relationships are healed. The recovery program focuses on the integration of the body, mind and spirit. Their Military Veterans Recovery Program offers outpatient treatment through both individual, group, family and 12-step sessions; residential care at facilities in Maywood as well as Oak Park, Melrose Park and Forest Park; and DUI Risk Evaluation and Education. The Way Back Inn and Grateful House is located at 104 Oak St. in Maywood.
— Joseph E. Troiani, Ph.D., Commander, U.S. Navy (Retired)

HOUSING

Purple Heart Homes
Purple Heart Homes provides housing solutions for service-connected disabled and aging veterans. The charity assists Veterans through monetary donations and the efforts of volunteers from the building trades who donate materials and services.  Purple Heart offers two programs, Veterans Aging in Place, which provides modifications, renovations and repairs to existing homes, and the Veterans Home Ownership Program, which helps veterans buy homes. While Veterans put up some money to participate in these programs, loans and grants are available for assistance. A Purple Heart is not required to participate in either program, but Veterans must have at least a 10 percent service-connected disability rating from the VA to participate.
— Felicia Reilly

LEGAL AID

Illinois Armed Forces Legal Aid Network (IL-AFLAN)
The Illinois Armed Forces Legal Aid Network (IL-AFLAN) operates a statewide legal assistance hotline and coordinates a network of legal support services at no charge to military personnel, veterans and their families. Member organizations include Chicago Volunteer Legal Services, the John Marshall Law School and Legal Aid Chicago. Affiliated organizations include Catholic Charities, the Legal Aid Society and the Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing. To speak to an IL-AFLAN attorney, call 855-452-3526. Make sure to have the necessary documents when you call.  Wait times average five minutes and won’t exceed 10.
— James Scalzitti

SALUTES

True Patriots Care
True Patriots Care recognizes and supports those who have served their communities as first responders and members of the military through the installation of flag tributes and the presentation of honor walls. Past tributes have honored Silver and Gold Star recipients, World War II and Korean War veterans, and victims of the 9/11 attacks. The organization strives to unite communities, promote awareness of the sacrifices made by our nation’s heroes, and help hearts heal.
— James Scalzitti

 

 

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