The Walmart Foundation today announces a $1 million grant to the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University (IVMF) to help kick-off the Welcome Home North Carolina (WHNC) initiative to support a three year pilot to identify new ways in which the non-profit, public and private sectors can better work together to serve veterans. The announcement will be made during a half-day conference of key stakeholders from the state’s public, private and non-profit sectors to discuss issues facing veterans today and demonstrates the Walmart Foundation’s concentration of resources to develop collective impact through private and public partnerships to support veteran reintegration.
The initiative launches during an important time for veterans and military families across the United States, with many service members projected to leave active service and return to their communities and the civilian workforce. According to the Pew Research Center, almost 44 percent of veterans who have served in the last 10 years report difficulty re-entering civilian life. North Carolina is home to over 770,000 veterans, 116,000 active duty service members, 22,000 Reserve Component members and their families, making WHNC a valuable opportunity to set an example for the rest of the nation.
“As a combat veteran, I understand the great need for our veterans to have a strong support structure when they transition back to civilian life,” said Ilario Pantano, Assistant Secretary of Veterans Affairs, N.C. “Our men and women in uniform give so much to ensure our freedom, and I’m proud of the work we’re doing in North Carolina to make our state a haven for service members transitioning back to civilian life.”
With the support of the Walmart Foundation and local assistance from Accenture, WHNC will gather key stakeholders across multiple sectors to amplify, embed and sustain collective impact strategies and efforts to serve the employment and supportive service needs of North Carolina’s veterans and their families. This collective impact model will pilot new ways in which the nonprofit, public and private sectors can work together to better serve our nation’s veterans. The initiative’s goals include improved employment rates for veterans and their families, development of a state-wide support services network and adoption of principles of education, employment, financial literacy and mental health care for veterans in North Carolina.
The WHNC initiative will serve as a model for other states to develop strategic plans to strengthen regional collaboration among veteran-serving organizations and increase the number of veterans and military families that seamlessly and successfully reintegrate into local communities and the civilian workforce.
“Our veterans add so much to our businesses and communities and it is not only our duty, but our honor to support our men and women in uniform, both during active service and when they return home,” said Kathleen McLaughlin, president of the Walmart Foundation and senior vice president of Walmart Sustainability. “We hope to make it easier for returning service members to reintegrate into civilian life. Welcome Home North Carolina will strengthen the organizations supporting veterans and military families, and provide veterans with information and referrals to navigate from one service to another. Over time, Welcome Home North Carolina can be an example and resource for communities across the country to help them provide more coordinated care for their veterans.”
“By building upon North Carolina’s existing strength in the public, private and nonprofit sectors along with the generous support of the Walmart Foundation, North Carolina has the opportunity to demonstrate to the nation the first statewide coordinated veteran supportive services network, enabled by state of the art technology, to measurably improve the lives of our nation’s veterans and their families,” said Mike Haynie, IVMF’s Executive Director and Vice Chancellor for Veteran and Military Affairs at Syracuse University. “Without a doubt, the findings and best practices identified in North Carolina will inform our work as we expand into other communities around the country.”
Walmart and the Walmart Foundation have a long history of supporting our nation’s military service members. Walmart has hired over 77,000 new veteran associates since full implementation of the Veterans Welcome Home Commitment on Memorial Day 2013, and over 6,000 have been promoted to roles of greater responsibility since joining the Walmart team. In North Carolina, over 3,600 veterans have been hired since the Memorial Day 2013 announcement.