On Tues, Nov. 20, Mayor G.T. Bynum, the Community Service Council and local veterans celebrated the one-year anniversary of a program launched to transform service for our local veterans, Oklahoma Veteran Connections (OKVC).
OKVC was created to help connect veterans and their families to services they were unaware of. In most instances, veterans are returning from fighting for our county to find themselves fighting a war on their home turf: fighting for employment, fighting for healthcare, for food and even for a place to call home. That’s where OKVC comes in.
OKVC is a 360-degree referral network that was launched Oct. 2017 by the Community Service Council with 12 key medical and social service agencies providing consistent support for veterans.
Over the past year, that network has grown to 35 agencies and between them has handled over 1,100 referrals for more than 700 veterans and their families.
“Through Oklahoma Veteran Connections and citywide partnerships, we are building a city where veterans and their families can receive the assistance needed to thrive in the community,” Mayor G.T. Bynum said. “I’m thankful Tulsa is a place where veterans are honored for their service and sacrifice, and I want to congratulate Oklahoma Veteran Connections for their remarkable first year.”
OKVC is working to transform the way a community collaborates and works collectively to help veterans find the assistance they need and deserve quickly, accurately and with outcome-based tracking.
“Our main goal behind the creation of Oklahoma Veteran Connections was to unite veteran service providers across the region to improve outcomes for Oklahoma’s veterans and their families,” said Vanessa Finley, Interim CEO, Community Service Council. “Too often, veterans were not able to access the scope of services they needed—and qualified for—in our community. We knew this had to change.”
Community Service Council also manages 211 Eastern Oklahoma, the social service connection hub, which it leveraged to work with OKVC because of the many critical needs the network already addresses.
The OKVC Connection Center was able to be housed within the existing 211 system, even though it utilizes a unique software developed for and by veterans called Unite Us. The cutting-edge software, from New York-based technology firm Unite Us, helped build the infrastructure to allow the sharing of data and referrals so providers could work as a united front to ensure veterans get the help they’re seeking. Unite Us also supports another large veteran network called AmericaServes, which is currently operating in 18 communities across the United States. Community Service Council is now part of the AmericaServes network to learn and integrate best practices from across the country.
“We are proud and excited about what OKVC has been able to accomplish through the exciting community collaboration for which Tulsa is known,” said Pete Luitwieler, program manager, Oklahoma Veteran Connections. “We are looking forward to Year Two. Our Oklahoma veterans will be the winners and that is what drives my passion—a Vietnam veteran now helping vets of all ages!"
Richard Albritton moved to Tulsa for a job that didn’t pan out. He reached out to the local veteran community for help and through assistance from CSC’s 211 social service connection hub he was able to get rent assistance to help while gaining permanent employment.
“I really appreciate the follow through and commitment to this veteran’s needs and the kindness that has been shown to me,” Albritton said.
About the Community Service Council
The Community Service Council has been a non-profit leader in community planning since 1941. Working with area partners, CSC confronts challenges to health, social, education and economic opportunities and strategically advances effective community-based solutions. This is done through research, planning, networking and mobilizing resources across six core investment areas ranging from child and maternal health to housing and homelessness to incarceration reduction and reentry to veterans programs.