Vets’ Community Connections

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A new program is being launched nationally in three locations, including Maricopa County, to help veterans connect with members of the community who can help them reintegrate into everyday life. Vets’ Community Connects allows veterans to dial 2-1-1, where they will be connected with a member of the community who has volunteered to help veterans through their particular expertise. Catherine Rea, CEO of 2-1-1 Arizona, and Felix Zayas, an Iraq veteran, West Point graduate and CEO of Harbinger Technologies Groups, will tell us more about Vets’ Community Connections.

JOSE CARDENAS: VETS' COMMUNITY CONNECT IS A NEW PROGRAM BEING LAUNCHHED NATIONALLY IN THREE LOCATIONS, INCLUDING MARICOPA COUNTY TO HELP VETERANS CONNECT WITH MEMBERS OF THE COMMUNITY WHO CAN HELP THEM RE-ENTER INTO EVERYDAY LIFE. WITH ME TO TALK ABOUT THE PROGRAM IS CATHERINE REA CEO OF 2-1-1 ARIZONA. AND FELIX ZAYAS, AN IRAQ VETERAN, WEST POINT GRADUATE, AND CEO OF HARBINGER TECHNOLOGIES GROUPS. CATHERINE, TELL US WHAT THE PROGRAM IS ALL ABOUT?

CATHERINE REA: THANK YOU. THANK YOU FOR HAVING US ON. I'M WITH COMMUNITY INFORMATION AND REFERAL SERVICES. WE HAVE BEEN AROUND MARICOPA COUNTY AND ARIZONA FOR 52 YEARS PROVIDING INFORMATION FOR HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES. PRIMARILY MARICOPA COUNTY UP TO FIVE YEARS AGO WHEN WE HAD THREE DIGIT DIALING, 211 ARIZONA.

JOSE CARDENAS: NOW YOU ARE EXTENDING TO VETERANS. WHAT IS THE NEED YOU ARE TRYING TO FILL?

CATHERINE REA: THANK YOU. WE ARE HONORED TO BE THE THIRD SITE FOR VETS COMMUNITY CONNECTIONS. BY INTENT OR DEFAULT, WE HAVE THE TREND SEEKING SERVICES TO HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES OR GOVERNMENT SERVICES. WE ACTIVATED ON -- EXCUSE ME, NOVEMBER 14TH, MONDAY NOVEMBER 14TH WHERE WE WILL NOW ASSIST VETERANS CONNECTING TO COMMUNITY RESOURCES AND INDIVIDUAL BUSINESSES WHO DONATE THEIR TIME TO HELP VETERANS REINTEGRATE AND MILITARY FAMILIES AS WELL.

JOSE CARDENAS: HOW DO YOU ANTICIPATE THIS WILL WORK?

FELIX VAYAS: IT PUTS A HUMAN TOUCH ON A PROBLEM FOR VETERANS TRANSITIONING. WHEN A VETERAN CALLS 211 AND IS GIVEN CONNECTIONS, THEY HAVE A PERSON THEY CAN CONNECT WITH TO GET AN ANSWER, QUESTION ON JOBS, SCHOOLING, ON WHERE TO BUY A HOME. WHEN I TRANSITION IN 2010 FROM ACTIVE DUTY AND WAS MOVING TO ARIZONA, I DIDN'T KNOW ANYONE IN THE STATE. I DIDN'T HAVE THIS TYPE OF SERVICE. NOW THAT THE SERVICE DOES EXIST, IT WILL ACCELERATE VETERANS INTEGRATING INTO COMMUNITY IN A MORE POSITIVE MANNER.

JOSE CARDENAS: WHAT ABOUT THOSE WITH MORE SERIOUS ISSUES, MEDICAL CARE, PSYCHIATRIC ISSUES? IS THIS OF ASSISTANCE THERE?

FELIX VAYAS: THE CONNECTION IN THE WHOLE GAMUT THAT IT RUNS IN PEOPLE WITH EXPERTISE, WHEN YOU CALL AND GET A PERSON, THEY HAVE SOMETHING THEY'LL ANSWER. IF THEY DON'T HAVE THE ANSWER, THEY'LL PLUG YOU INTO 211 TO GET THE RESOURCES YOU NEED. YOU ARE CONNECTED TO THE RESOURCES YOU NEED OTHERWISE.

JOSE CARDENAS: SO IT'S A FULL SERVICE REFERRAL SOURCE?

CATHERINE REA: ABSOLUTELY. CURRENTLY 211 ARIZONA, WE ARE IN OUR FIFTH YEAR OF SERVICE TO THE STATE OF ARIZONA. WE HAVE 36,000 SERVICES AVAILABLE STATEWIDE AND GROWING EVERYDAY. LIKE MOST VETERANS, MILITARY FAMILIES COMING BACK, WE ADD ON TO THAT WITH A SPECIAL DATABASE AS WELL.

JOSE CARDENAS: THERE IS A LOT MORE TO TALK ABOUT ON THE ROAD.

CATHERINE REA: ABSOLUTELY.

JOSE CARDENAS: WE'LL HAVE YOU BACK TO DISCUSS IT. THANK YOU FOR JOINING US ON HORIZON. THAT IS OUR SHOW FOR TONIGHT. I'M JOSE CARDENAS IN FOR TED SIMONS. HAVE A GOOD EVENING.

"ARIZONA HORIZON" IS MADE POSSIBLE BY CONTRIBUTIONS FROM THE FRIENDS OF PBS, YOUR PBS STATION. THANK YOU.

Catherine Rea, CEO, 2-1-1 Arizona;
Felix Zayas, Iraq veteran & CEO of Harbinger Technologies Groups

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