Project aims to connect veterans to local resources, support -- Gazette.Net


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When the organizers of Serving Together started working on a project for military veterans and their families, Jessica McNurlen said they realized they didn’t need to duplicate resources already available, they just needed to let people know what is out there.

“What we all experience, is sometimes you don’t know the right questions to ask,” she said. “... We just want to make sure that people know the direction they can go.”

Serving Together is a four-year pilot project based in Montgomery County to let military veterans and their families know about the resources, events and benefits available to them. They launched a website this month that pulls together resources and help for military veterans and their families in a convenient online location.

McNurlen, whose husband is in the Marine Corps, is the project director for Serving Together. She said she hopes the project’s new website, www.servingtogetherproject.org, becomes “the home for military veterans” looking for resources in Montgomery County.

While support may be out there, it’s not always easy to find. Lee Ann Doerflinger’s son, Thomas, was killed in action in 2004 while serving in the Army in Iraq.

“When my son was killed in Iraq nearly eight years ago, I had nowhere local to turn for help,” Doerflinger said in a statement. “Community support was lacking.”

Serving Together connects veterans to services and events for them, such as job fairs, transition conferences, scholarships and veterans celebrations. It also helps employers connect with potential hires and lets service providers know what’s available if a veteran comes through the door with questions.

“Really, just being able to avoid giving [veterans] a 1-800 number or saying, ‘I’m sorry, we don’t do that and don’t know who does,’” McNurlen said.

The project started in August 2011, and local, state and federal partners have been working for the past to compile information and contacts. McNurlen said the project is focused on resources available in Montgomery County and the surrounding area.

Serving Together is a project of the Mental Health Association of Montgomery County and is funded through grants from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Montgomery County and other supporters. Learn more at www.servingtogetherproject.org.