By Sydney Palese, Digital Marketing and Analytics Manager, Easterseals
Easterseals’ formal commitment to serving veterans and their families began in World War II. Though Easterseals was originally formed in 1919 to provide necessary supports, services and advocacy for children with disabilities, we saw there was a gap in the assistance available to veterans who had served our country. Since then, we have been committed to breaking down barriers and paving pathways to success for our nation’s heroes. We know that the obstacles veterans face when transitioning from military to civilian life are as unique as the individual before us, so our programs are designed to look at the whole person and their family. Our programs also include services for veterans with disabilities that may or may not have been acquired during military service.
While the unemployment rate for veterans is declining, there still exists a need to bridge the unemployment gap for the 3.7 percent of veterans ready to join the workforce. For veterans with a service-related disability, this unemployment rate is slightly higher at 4.3 percent (via the Bureau of Labor Statistics). We’re working with veterans and potential employers to prepare for – and find – meaningful, steady employment. We accomplish this by offering on-the-job training and job search assistance. Across the country, select Easterseals affiliates are ensuring veterans can smoothly transition the skills they learned while serving our country and apply them to careers where they can thrive.
Currently, one in four female veterans experience military sexual trauma and have a higher incidence of homelessness than their male counterparts. Easterseals has a female veterans initiative to provide support and programs to meet the unique needs of this population. This initiative has helped veterans like Sonya, a Purple Heart recipient and the mother of four boys, one of whom has special needs. After her home was flooded for the second time in two years following Hurricane Harvey, Easterseals Greater Houston stepped in to support Sonya and her family to ensure they could rebuild in the aftermath.
In addition to our employment and specialized veterans’ services, we also offer a summer camp for military children called Camp Yellow Ribbon in Wisconsin. The Wisconsin camp started three years ago to provide emotional support to children in military families, facilitated through recreation and play. “The kids can play on rope courses, canoe, swim, make art and crafts and enjoy campfire sing-alongs. They engage in team-building activities and connect with peers who understand their unique experience as a child of a service member,” says Bridget Mangan, respite supervisor at Easterseals Southeast Wisconsin.
Our grassroots approach to serving those with disabilities, seniors and veterans means that each of our 71 affiliates nationwide responds to the direct needs of their communities. Easterseals offers medical rehabilitation, childcare services, financial literacy education and more. At Easterseals New Hampshire, this looks like caring for a veteran and his son to help them cope after the tragic loss of their wife and mom. During this hard time, Easterseals provided the grieving family support including home visits, financial assistance and connected them to community resources.
At Easterseals, we recognize the personal sacrifices that military families make for our country every day. That’s why we go the extra mile to meet the critical needs of service members and veterans — and the families who love them — when they return home.
For nearly 100 years, Easterseals has served as an indispensable resource committed to expanding possibilities for children and adults with disabilities, including veterans and seniors.
With an on-the-ground presence and through exceptional programs, our 71 affiliates support over 1.4 million children and adults, so they can live fully and confidently every day and throughout life. In schools, workplaces and communities, we’re fostering environments where everyone is included and valued — with a real and positive impact on us all. Together with our partners, we’re ensuring that every one of us has the resources necessary to live, learn, work and play in communities around the country.