Reaching Veterans and getting them connected to the benefits they have earned — as well as resources available to them — is the goal of an upcoming event led by the chaplaincy service at the Milwaukee VA Medical Center.
The Clergy and Community Symposium will be 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday, March 24, at the Milwaukee County War Memorial Center, 750 N. Lincoln Memorial Drive.
“There’s a large group of Veterans who don’t know they may qualify for services,” said Chaplain Robert Allen, head of the Milwaukee VA’s chaplaincy service. “This is to educate community leaders, so they can say to Veterans in their parishes or organizations, ‘Hey, you may qualify for services.’”
In preparing for the symposium, Allen said his staff reached out to numerous churches and community organizations from the Milwaukee area and as far north as Green Bay. They discovered many groups have programs that help Veterans, but they exist on islands.
“Everyone was running siloed programs and not communicating with each other,” Allen said. “Almost everyone we’ve met with didn’t know or have information (about VA services).”
Instead of a lecture-based symposium, the March 24 event will be extremely interactive, Allen said, with participants sharing what programs they run and VA sharing what programs it offers.
Participants will be seated at numerous round tables, and they will be encouraged to talk to one another about their successes and how they can do better for the Veterans they serve.
“It’s bringing people together so they can share resources and begin to have the conversation,” Allen said. “We want to keep it engaging and interactive — almost like speed dating. We want people to bring flyers and information about their particular services for Veterans.”
Numerous Milwaukee VA programs will be shared as well, including mental health, whole health, benefit eligibility, suicide prevention and services for post-9/11 Veterans, among others.
“And we’ll talk about the community partnerships that the VA is forging on a national level,” he said.
The theme of the symposium is “Unity of Us.” Allen said since coming to the Milwaukee VA last year, he’s learned about the divides in the city — north, south, east, west — and hopes this event bridges those divides.
“It’s bringing people from the four corners … to meet the needs of the Veteran,” he said. “Let’s come together and share resources.”
For more information about the symposium or to RSVP, contact Diana Manley, chaplain support assistant, at 414-384-2000, ext. 42160 or email email@example.com.