Veterans Day is a perfect time to let service members and veterans know where they can get guidance and help.
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Larence Kirby wants service members and veterans to know that they have help when looking for assistance.
Veterans Day, he said, is an ideal time to let them know where they can find that help.
Kirby, executive director of the Delaware Commission of Veterans Affairs, said Delaware Joining Forces was created to help match service members and veterans with a catalog of business partners who seek to provide help and support to the state’s 78,000 veterans.
It can be for employment, financial help, behavioral health or one of several other categories offered by the DJF network.
“Delaware Joining Forces is our initiative to get service organizations and service agencies that assist veterans signed up,” Kirby said. “So, face-to-face, every other month, we meet all throughout Delaware to cross-reference.
“So [a business] can do something for housing for veterans, it can do something for employment for veterans, it can do something for mental health services for veterans, and we crosstalk and we get that information out to one another.”
Kirby said no single organization can meet all the needs of the state’s veterans and their families, but a community of partners can provide an array of essential services, a network for referrals and a process for collaboration.
Bill Gay, a veteran organizer, said Delaware Joining Forces is a great tool, especially its website.
“The need is to entice organizations to join the ‘chamber’ to create opportunities to share information and resources, thereby increasing capabilities and improving outcomes,” Gay said.
“Delaware Joining Forces used to be called ‘Veterans Service Directory’ [two years ago] but that wasn’t fitting the bill, so Delaware Joining Forces ties in with the National Joining Forces initiative that every state has. The key thing is we’re joining the forces of service agencies and service organizations to assist veterans,” said Kirby.
Delaware Joining Forces seeks any kind of business or organization it can because veterans’ needs can be very broad.
“Sometimes you just never know what you’re going to get,” Kirby said. “A veteran gentleman needed assistance getting fingerprinted because he was getting a federal job. You don’t necessarily see that all the time, but you get the request for assistance with maybe electricity bills that are maybe overdue, or security deposits.
“We had a veteran who needed assistance getting eyeglasses and we helped with that as well. So you just never know. The more variety we get with the service providers and the service organizations agencies, then we’re able to put that out there to the veteran and then they’ll know what’s going on.”
The web page delaware.gov/djf is where veterans can locate services from around 130 businesses and organizations. Kirby wants to see that number grow, perhaps double.
“If you are an organization that assists veterans then we market toward you, and another fact that is important is that we cater to veteran-owned businesses as well -- and also any organization that want to hire veterans, we focus on them as well,” Kirby said.
“We also categorize the assistance so that they’re not following 20 million different links and getting frustrated, so we’re looking to streamline it and make sure that we categorize the assistance in the proper manner so it will be veteran friendly.”
Many older veterans may not be adept at navigating a website, so DJF conducts in-person visits where vets congregate.
“We have to cater to our recent-era veterans and our Vietnam, Korea, and World War II veterans,” said Kirby. “We do a lot of outreach. We visit various sites. We’ll go to the different posts and different chapters and we’ll talk to those organizations.”
What is Delaware Joining Forces? A statewide coalition of public and private organizations that contribute to the well-being of service members, veterans and their families. It promotes collaboration among service organizations to improve quality of life and their community.
Service categories Behavioral health, disability benefits, education, employment, family services, financial assistance, housing, job training, medical services, transportation, and more.
Who are the partners? Visit Delaware.gov/djf for a searchable directory of DJF members by service type or location. It is a public forum for use by those seeking information about service organizations.