Spring 2022 Cohort
Bob Woodruff Foundation (BWF) Got Your 6 Network local partners have the regular opportunity to connect with each other on facilitated regional cohort calls. During these calls, BWF gains a better understanding of the needs, challenges, and opportunities in each region of the country, and ultimately nationwide. These calls inform programmatic and funding efforts for the foundation. This spring, cohort calls focused on the strengths and opportunities present in each region. These strengths and opportunities were based on data received in the 2021 Local Partner Self-Assessment Tool (LPSAT), which is completed by local partners on a biennial basis. Strengths were defined as areas where local partners demonstrated a high ability to fulfill a specific need for veterans, and opportunities were defined as areas where local partners were unable to fulfill a specific need for veterans.
Across the country, many local partners shared career training and readiness as a strength and saw a similar theme of overall veteran well-being (mental/physical health and food/nutrition) as an opportunity for improvement in their community collaborative.
Throughout the regional cohort calls, many local partners discussed how they have approached career training and readiness as a key component of their work. Imperative to these efforts were diverse partnerships among community members, initiatives to improve cultural competency of employers, and mentorship programs for veterans and veteran business owners. These efforts have helped to reduce some barriers and stigma for veterans, service members, and their families that are currently job-seeking. We understand that these steps, while enhancing the veteran experience, do not encompass the entire need. Local partners still experience challenges in fully addressing this need, including underemployment of a veteran or spouse, identifying appropriate career paths for veterans who have gaps or frequent job changes on their resumes, difficulty in retaining student veterans, and other upward stream needs including housing, health, and transportation.
Most local partners are continuously looking for ways to improve their service offerings build relationships with the military connected population in new and unique ways. Local partners discussed offering wellness days, resource fairs, and family centric community days to establish stronger connections with those veterans and families. These efforts have strengthened collaboration with the Department of Veterans Affairs to work together to address the needs of the population. Members of the Got Your 6 Network expressed that the recent food insecurity funding from BWF have been instrumental towards establishing important connections between veterans and other services and resources. These efforts build trust and improve relationships within the community, which allows veterans, service members, and their families to be more comfortable in asking for help and connecting with their community for support.
The Foundation is grateful for our partners’ willingness to share their experiences and challenges to better inform BWF’s knowledge and understanding of community-based collaborative needs across the country.