Attend 11th Annual Symposium Supporting Service Members, Veterans, Military Families

Phoenix, Ariz. (May 1, 2021) – In April, 587 people gathered in a virtual conference center for the 11th Annual Symposium in Support of Service Members, Veterans and Their Families. The event featured a keynote speech by Thomas Winkel, Director of the Arizona Coalition for Military Families, highlighting the importance of a collaborative approach to servicing the whole person – regardless of what might draw someone to seek support.

“It is vitally important that we continue to cultivate an Ecosystem of Support that addresses the diverse needs of our veteran community and their families,” said Winkel. “We know from the more than 50,000 encounters we have had through our Support Line that when someone reaches out for support with one issue, we can be of service to them in many other ways.”

Professionals from government organizations, faith community leaders, Arizona Veteran Supportive Employers and members of the community all gathered to hear from many prominent leaders in Arizona who continue to be champions for Arizona’s service members, veterans and military family population.

Wanda Wright, Col. (Ret.), the Director of the Arizona Department of Veterans’ Services, shared an important result with the attendees during the open session. “We saw a very high rate of success where we did a warm hand-off between the Be Connected Support Line and our Veteran Benefits Counselors. We also partnered with the VA and were able to engage with 600 veterans for who we were able to get benefits.”

Advocating for veterans and military families to connect them to the financial and medical resources they need was just one of the many successes that were highlighted in this year’s Symposium. Sessions were held to discuss innovations in Veteran Access to Transportation, the importance of Women Veterans, the Role of Faith Communities in Serving Veterans, Q & A with VA Officials and the Impact of COVID-19 on Military & Veteran Community. The Symposium concluded with video messages from Arizona Senators Kystren Sinema and Mark Kelly.

Typically held in the spring at the Desert Willow Conference Center, the Symposium went virtual this year due to COVID-19. Symposium participants provided feedback that will inform future community engagement and learning opportunities offered by ACMF. When asked what the most valuable aspect of the Symposium was, participants replied:

  • “I liked the variety of topics. The guest speakers in the general sessions were great. I liked the conversational approach, information was more genuine and relatable”
  • “Candid open conversation about difficult topics appreciated the honesty.”
  • “General overview of ALL of the initiatives and the expansion of how many community members who are bought in! A much bigger ecosystem than I imagined.”
  • “The most valuable aspects of the symposium was the loads of information on the programs that we can offer to our veterans.”

To watch a replay of the various discussions visit

For more information on the programs and services offered to Arizona service members, veterans and their families through the Arizona Coalition for Military Families’ Be Connected program, visit or call 866-4AZ-VETS (866-429-8387).


About the Arizona Coalition for Military Families
The mission of the Arizona Coalition for Military Families is to connect the 500,000+ military members, veterans, and their families in Arizona to the right resources at the right time through the Be Connected program. The Coalition is recognized as a national leader for its ability to bring together Arizona’s public and private sector partners in a unified effort. Launched in 2009, the Coalition works nationally and locally to advocate for service members, veterans, and their families. The Coalition works collaboratively to build and sustain an Ecosystem of Support needed to sustain Arizona’s statewide capacity to care for, serve and support service members, veterans, and their families. The Coalition’s membership extends across all levels of local, county, state, and federal government as well as a vast network of private companies, healthcare providers, faith-based organizations, higher education institutions, and non-profit partners. To learn more about the Arizona Coalition for Military Families, visit

About the Be Connected® Program
Be Connected is the program of the Arizona Coalition for Military Families that links Arizona service members, veterans, families, and community helpers to information, support, and resources for employment, healthcare, wellness benefits, and more. Be Connected includes a support line, a resource matching website, a statewide team of community-based navigators, and no-cost training. Launched with the help, support, and guidance of the late Senator John McCain, and now operated with support from the Governor’s Office, the Arizona Department of Veterans’ Services and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and other partners, Be Connected is available to any member of the military, any veteran and their family members regardless of era or length of service, discharge status or disability status. Anyone who served or anyone supporting those who served can call 866-4AZ-VETS (866-429-8387) for support. Organizations that want to support and join our efforts should begin by completing an application. For more information, to find support and learn more, visit

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Special thanks to the Governor’s Office of Youth, Faith and Family for their partnership and support.

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