Task force strives to connect veteran services

By Ryan Cornell

WINCHESTER — The Winchester-Frederick County Veterans Task Force aims to be the glue that holds all other veterans services together.

Members of the task force meet each month to educate themselves and others on what local services and resources are available to military veterans.

The group includes representatives from the Veterans for Valor Foundation, Army OneSource, Virginia Employment Commission, American Veterans, Habitat for Humanity, American Red Cross and Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

Rather than work directly with veterans, the goal of the task force is to connect the resource providers and service organizations together.

For example, task force coordinator Becky Moser said that if an employer wants to hire veterans but doesn’t know where to look, the task force would be able to point them in the right direction.

“It’s not for us to go to Joe Marine and say we’re going to help you find a job,” she said. “It’s to educate them on what resources are available and to make them aware of one another.

“Everyone knows about the VA and the Salvation Army. Those are big global things that are everywhere. What we’re trying to identify are things that are unique to our area.”

A veteran who works at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Moser said the idea for the group began last year when the local Habitat for Humanity chapter was approached with the prospect of building a house for veterans.

“It became very apparent to those who were part of the Habitat for Humanity board that the issue was bigger than building a house,” she said. “It was to create some organization to serve as the connector between all the resources for community veterans.”

When Clyde Croswell, a veteran who serves on the task force, first moved to the area, he went to the Winchester Town Hall to ask about what services were available to veterans like himself.

“They sent him to the tax office,” Moser said. “There’s a serious lack of knowledge on what is available and where it’s available and what they can or cannot do.”

The task force is currently working on a sheet that would be distributed to churches and community agencies listing the housing, food, utilities, case management and other services for veterans.

“So if a veteran wanders in and asks what services are available to them, they can give them this sheet,” she said.

Meetings are open by registration to anybody interested in helping veterans. The next meeting is scheduled for April 17 at the Virginia Employment Commission in Winchester.

For more information or to attend a meeting, contact Moser at rmoser@shentel.net

Contact staff writer Ryan Cornell at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or rcornell@nvdaily.com