Office of Community Engagement
VHA Community Partnership Challenge
Every year, VHA holds a national contest to spotlight successful partnerships between VA medical facilities and nongovernmental organizations. The contest brings attention to the collaborative efforts taking place in local communities to serve Veterans, their families, caregivers, and survivors. Under this year’s Return on Partnership contest theme, VA medical facilities were encouraged to submit entries that demonstrate how their partnerships are paying off for Veterans and advancing VA’s mission. The three winning facilities are the Central Texas Veterans Health Care System, Phoenix VA Health Care System, and VA San Diego Healthcare System. Their partnerships were among more than 100 entries from across the country.
In their contest entry, "Joining Hands, Feeding Veterans,” the Central Texas Veterans Health Care System (CTVHCS) described their partnership with the Central Texas Food Bank. Together, they serve their local area Veterans by ensuring that they have sufficient amounts of food. Since August of 2017, the mobile pantries have distributed nearly 87,000 pounds of food, which equates to more than 72,000 meals for Veterans and their families.
One Veteran says he relies on the pantry to help him when he may not be able to afford groceries. “Even though I receive foods stamps, it is not enough to make it through the month. I am glad for programs like yours that help me out.”
Since 2009, the Phoenix VA Health Care System has partnered with the Arizona Coalition for Military Families to create an ecosystem of support for Veterans and their families throughout Arizona. One of the key results of this collaboration is the Be Connected program, which brings together important stakeholders from the public and private sectors to address the elevated suicide risk of Arizona Veterans. Since its launch, Be Connected has helped more than 1,400 individuals through its support line, over 1,000 resources have been mapped on the online platform, and the program has trained and equipped more than 3,300 community members as Military/Veteran Resource Navigators. Even more compelling than the numbers though are the testimonials from the people Be Connected has helped. “Be Connected did what no one else has,” said one Vietnam Veteran, “you gave me hope.”
The VA San Diego Healthcare System and Team AMVETS™ Welcome Home partnership was developed in 2012 to help California’s homeless Veterans by transforming their new residences into real homes by providing them with furniture, household items, cooking utensils, and appliances. Team AMVETS has donated over $500,000 in San Diego County, and close to $2 million in Southern California. More than 5,000 Veterans have been served since the inception of the partnership. Some Veterans have been so grateful for the assistance that they now volunteer at the Team AMVETS™ warehouse, joining nearly 5,000 other Welcome Home partnership volunteers across the region.