Coalition raising $3 million to help AmeriCorps serve vets and their families
Published: November 16, 2011
WASHINGTON — Five years ago, military spouse Roberta “Bobbie” Davis received the visitors every soldier’s wife dreads.
The executive officer at Fort Wainwright, Alaska, and a chaplain were at her door. Her husband, Sgt. David J. Davis, had been killed in Iraq.
A veteran herself, who had served six years on active duty as a combat medic plus two more in the National Guard, Bobbie Davis was suddenly alone, with three children and no plan.
“They say that home is the place you go when you feel a loss and need to redirect your life,” she said.
So she moved home to Magnolia, Ark. to be with family. She went to trade school, and became involved with the American Legion Auxiliary.
And, she found another way to serve. In 2009, Davis was sworn in as an AmeriCorps VISTA member, working to connect veterans, servicemembers and families with resources to help them in the civilian world. She said it helped her put her life back together.
AmeriCorps and AmeriCorps VISTA are federal service programs to fight poverty, assist in education and environmental cleanup, among other causes.
“When I left the Army, I had so many struggles with the transition to civilian life,” she said. “There was none of the structure I’d become accustomed to. During my year [with Americorps], I found this to be a common denominator among veterans.”
Davis was in Washington last week as a coalition of government and private groups announced the launch of a new program called VetCorps, which aims to recruit at least 100 veterans like Davis to serve in AmeriCorps and AmeriCorps VISTA. The Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America, the National Guard Bureau and the Corporation for National and Community Service are behind the effort.
Robert Velasco II, the acting CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service, said his agency will put up about $1.5 million. With matching funds from CADCA and other partners, the total dedicated should be close to $3 million.
“That gets us to the placement of about 100 AmeriCorps and VISTA members,” Velasco said. “It’s a very cost-effective strategy.”
“We developed VetCorps to improve the overall quality of life for veterans and military families, particularly National Guard and Reserve members who don’t benefit from services readily available on military bases, such as family support centers and counseling services,” said CADCA Chairman and CEO retired Gen. Arthur T. Dean. “We will be using the valuable skills and knowledge of veterans to help other veterans in the community.”
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