Arizona is home to a vibrant and diverse military and veteran community with more than 500,000 service members, veterans, and their family members. We know that serving in the military and being a member of a military-affiliated family requires a tremendous amount of strength, sacrifice, and courage. These are the traits that our neighbors, friends, and the nation admire about the military and veteran community.
There are also times when service in the military can result in stress, injury, or illness. A military lifestyle can cause strain, and financial hardship and even bring challenges related to moving, fitting in, and finding a home. The Arizona Coalition for Military Families recognizes that these challenges can result in increased stress and, in the worst cases, can lead to crisis. That’s why we take a proactive approach and work collaboratively with a variety of partners in the community, the government, and various professions to develop a network of support for any service member, veteran, or military family member in Arizona. Our work unites a variety of public and private partnerships across the state to ensure that every Arizona service member, veteran, and their families are connected to whatever form of a support system for their unique needs. Those needs take a variety of forms, so here is a look at some of the partnerships we have been building in Arizona for the last 14 years.
Partnering with the VA
The VA is a cornerstone of support for veterans, offering vital healthcare, mental health services, resources and benefits. The Coalition has forged a strong partnership with the VA, helping to connect veterans to these essential services and expanding awareness of VA resources and programs to family members, caregivers, and the veteran-supportive community. This partnership strengthens the support network for veterans, both within the VA system and in the broader community. Most recently, we worked with the VA in Arizona to co-host the 2023 VA Be Connected Community Mental Health Summit. We also partner with the VA throughout the year on events such as the annual Statewide Symposium in Support of Service Members, Veterans & Their Families. Our Be Connected program offers no-cost transportation support, such as free rides that aren’t covered by existing transportation options, assistance for vehicle repairs, and even gas cards to ensure that veterans have reliable access to transportation to reach their health and wellness appointments at the VA and other providers.
Collaborating with Military Installations
Our work across Arizona to help the military-affiliated community also extends to all of Arizona’s military installations. As the hub of activity in the community where they are located, these military installations provide a unique, safe, and trusted environment where service members and their families live, work, and socialize. Be Connected collaborates with active duty installations, National Guard and reserve units to provide resources, support, and briefings. We want to ensure that all service members exiting military service know about the service available to them through the Be Connected program. Services such as Career Navigation, SkillBridge, and the Be Connected support line are tailored to the needs of service members and their families while serving on active duty and during the transition to civilian life. ACMF is also partnered with Arizona State University on a Department of Defense-funded grant focused on cross-cutting prevention.
Engaging the Faith Community
The faith community plays a vital role in the lives of many service members and their families. Whether for spiritual guidance, emotional support, or community involvement, faith-based organizations are often places of comfort and solace. The Coalition partners with these organizations to ensure that they are aware of the resources available to their military congregants. This connection helps bridge the gap between faith and mental health support, offering a holistic approach to well-being. We bring together a variety of faith leaders through the Be Connected Faith Network.
Working with Government and Community Leaders
Government agencies at the local, county, and state levels deliver vital services that impact our military and veteran community directly. The Coalition actively engages with these agencies and leaders to strengthen how our systems and communities work together to serve our population. By fostering these connections, the Coalition supports how our systems meet the needs of service members, veterans and their families.
An Upstream Prevention Approach
The Arizona Coalition for Military Families adopts an upstream prevention approach to reduce stress and prevent suicide. Instead of waiting until a crisis arises, the Coalition focuses on proactively identifying and addressing potential stressors before they escalate into severe issues. This approach involves building resilience, creating a strong support system, and educating individuals about mental health and suicide risk factors. The goal is to provide early intervention and support, ultimately reducing the number of suicides among the military community.
The mission of the Arizona Coalition for Military Families is not merely a statement of intent; it’s an entire set of Guidelines for Care which are testament to the unwavering dedication of numerous organizations and individuals working together for the well-being of our service members, veterans, and their families. By partnering with the VA, military installations, the faith community, and government and community leaders across Arizona, the Coalition is committed to reducing stress and preventing suicide through an upstream prevention approach. Through these collective efforts, together we are making a difference in the lives of those who have sacrificed so much for our country, ensuring that they receive the support they deserve.