While Veteran’s Day has passed, it is never too late to talk about ways that veterans need help. One way that Illinois is connecting veterans with services they need is through something called Operation Connect a Vet. People are asked to contact Illinois Joining Forces or IJF, a nonprofit organization launched in 2012 through the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs and Military Affairs. Contacting IJF will help connect veterans with other veterans to do wellness checks to make sure they are doing ok. Often times vets don’t need to be having a crisis, it’s just good to connect those with others.
Veterans can face multiple crises including financial problems and other needs. Rent, mortgage, life issues, and getting meds, are all issues that can crop up during phone calls. Michael Pedroza, a veteran care coordinator specialist for IJF and a Navy Veteran from 1989-1993, says that often veterans are reluctant to ask for help even when they need it.
IJF is a statewide public/private network of military and veterans-serving organizations that work together to improve services for veterans, service members, and their families. According to the website, IJF helps navigate through a “sea of goodwill” to find the support they need when they need it.
Requests can be made by calling the IJF Care Coordination Center at 833-463-6453, sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or filling out a Connect a Vet form on the IJF website, illinoisjoiningforces.org.