National Center for Healthcare Advancement and Partnerships
OCE Partnership Impact
Unemployment rates across the nation are elevated in response to the coronavirus. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the national unemployment rate was 11.1% in June 2020. Many of the people who are unemployed are Veterans (whose current unemployment rate is 8.8%) transitioning service members, and Veterans’ spouses.
The lack of economic stability and employment are not new challenges facing the Veteran community, and a collaboration between the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) and The Daniel and Salvador Montoya Heroes Foundation (Heroes Foundation) is assisting Veterans during the COVID-19 pandemic. Heroes Foundation is a nonprofit dedicated to working with Veteran-friendly companies to match Veterans, transitioning service members, and their spouses with careers and corporate cultures that engage and embrace them. VHA and Heroes Foundation are establishing a formal partnership and their collaborative activities began in March 2019.
Within the past year, VHA has introduced Heroes Foundation to various programs across the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), including VHA’s Compensated Work Therapy, Veteran Community Partnerships, the Veteran Experience Office’s Community Veteran Engagement Boards, and the Veterans Benefits Administration. These relationships have given Heroes Foundation a better understanding of resources and benefits that VA offers to help employers learn about the unique characteristics of Veterans, transitioning service members, and their spouses. To date, VHA and Heroes Foundation have collaborated on numerous Veteran hiring events and resource fairs across the nation. VHA and Heroes Foundation will continue to expand the partnership and assist employers to become better equipped to hire Veterans and improve their economic stability and quality of life.
“My goal has always been to help Veterans find meaningful employment,” said Chris Montoya, president and CEO of Heroes Foundation. “But the previous ways we have tried to solve this issue haven’t affected the gap that prevents Veterans and military spouses from progressing in the hiring process. Our approach at Heroes Foundation is to flip the paradigm and equip companies with the tools, resources, and programs necessary to hire, retain and serve Veteran employees.”
The collaboration reflects VHA’s commitment to improving key social determinants of health (SDOH), including access to employment and economic stability. SDOH are conditions in the environments in which Veterans live, learn, work, play, worship, and age that affect a wide range of health, functioning, and quality-of-life outcomes and risks. Positive SDOH, such as providing employment opportunities, has been linked to lower suicide risk.
“These outreach and education programs are transforming and empowering human resource departments within these companies to drive the conversation with their Veteran employees,” said Montoya. “This type of system builds a culture where Veterans understand their benefits and aren’t afraid to ask for help. It also sets the foundation for a place Veterans desire to work.”
VHA’s Office of Community Engagement (OCE) facilitates the Heroes Foundation partnership and also manages numerous partnerships with organizations across the country to improve access to SDOH for Veterans. The mission of the office is to is to serve as a trusted resource and a catalyst for the growth of effective partnerships at the national, state, and community level and as a facilitator and access point for public and private entities interested in partnering with VHA to benefit Veterans, their families, caregivers, and survivors.
“By collaborating with organizations such as Heroes Foundation, VHA is helping Veterans find employment,” said Dr. Tracy Weistreich, nurse executive for OCE. “Military training provides Veterans with unique skills and abilities and connecting them with employers who need and appreciate those skills is an important step to ensuring Veterans have economic stability within rewarding careers. It also enables them to work in environments where their employers are equipped to connect them with VA resources and inform them of their unique benefits.”
For more information about Heroes Foundation and how it assists Veterans, visit www.dsmhf.org.
To learn more about OCE, visit https://www.va.gov/healthpartnerships/.
Posted September 18, 2020