Help for military veterans at United Way's 2-1-1 call line

The United Way's 2-1-1 call helpline assists veterans, active duty military, and their respective family members in Bexar County and 12 surrounding counties by providing information and referrals to available health and human services. Military outreach coordinators are available on the call line and for live chatting 24/7. So, a deployed military member can call from any time zone and get help for their family living in the Bexar County area.

These coordinators, often veterans themselves, assist with matching services specifically geared for vets and military families' needs. Just last year, United Way added 80 agencies that deal with PTSD, handicap equipment for wounded warriors, mental health counseling, and other issues specific to military personnel and their families. Other needs, such financial assistance, help with utilities and rent, and emergency food, are referred to community-at-large agencies.

Jeff Vance, Senior Vice President, 2-1-1 Operations & Administration, said "One of the largest barriers with helping military personnel is their reluctance to come forward and ask for help. United Way has Military Outreach Coordinators who go into the community to increase awareness of this important initiative among the military and veteran population and encourage them to call."

San Antonio has seen an influx of military families in the past several years. Troops are returning to civilian life and coming home. Many of the wounded warriors receiving treatment at BAMC or Center for the Intrepid have remained with their families and now call San Antonio home. Vance added, "Between 2009 and 2010, our call volume increased 100%. In 2011, we reached out to 51,000 vets and spouses with 1057 outreach activities.

Since 2008, with funding through the TRIAD Fund, the Texas Military Family Access Program has helped military members and families of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) access health and human services. Now, with a grant from the Texas Veterans Commission Fund for Veterans Assistance, any military personnel or family member can be given the help they need finding agencies that address their needs.

If you are a vet or know one who needs assistance, call 2-1-1 and let the United Way call coordinators assist in finding the resources to give the help needed.

San Antonio activist and nonprofit veteran Laura Carter believes in enabling the community to work from the heart, not just the wallet. During her time at the San Antonio Area Foundation, Laura oversaw their website and all published materials. She introduced multimedia and social media into the communications plan increasing participation in the Foundation's programs and initiatives.  In addition, Laura is a friend of Blessed Sacrament Academy on Mission Road and contributes to community journalism projects. You can follow her personal blog, A Small Blog or on Twitter @LauraCarter

Oh, and in her spare time, she enjoys reading, movies, music and spending time with her pastry chef extraordinaire husband and their family.