The Be Connected program is a statewide initiative to strengthen access to support and resources.
- There are three parts to the Be Connected program
- CALL - A support line that anyone can call
- MATCH - Help and support to navigate to the right resources for each person or family’s situation
- LEARN - Training, including in-person and online options
“Be Connected” was birthed in 2010 as an extension of the Arizona Coalition for Military Families (ACMF), which itself was formed the previous year. Founders Thomas and Nicola Winkle and Kelly Anne Wilde sensed a great need to help veterans navigate the many Veteran Service Organizations (VSOs) throughout Arizona and the nation. Their mission statement can be found on ACMF’s website:
“The Arizona Coalition for Military Families is a nationally recognized public/private partnership focused on building Arizona’s statewide capacity to care for, serve and support service members, veterans, their families and communities.”
Be Connected is the infrastructure designed to facilitate these goals. Together with some very important partners, the entire state is now covered with “Navigators” designated to administer all fifteen counties. Some key partners include:
- The Governor’s Office of Youth, Faith and Family
- The Arizona National Guard
- The Department of Veteran’s Affairs
- Tri-West Health Care Alliance
It is important to note that currently Arizona is the only state in the country to have built such an effective coalition. There are numerous other states that are now looking at Be Connected for their own Veterans.
Starting with two Navigators, it has only been recently that there has been a quantum leap in available services to all counties. As a participating member of the recent Zoom meeting for the Yavapai county VSOs, it was evident that Yavapai’s veterans have a strong, caring, experienced support structure already in place. It is Be Connected’s hope to bring a greater cooperation among the over 20 attending individuals who represented the numerous VSOs already in place throughout the county. Many other functioning VSOs were not in attendance for the first meeting, but will be included as time and personnel allows. This will be the pattern throughout the state.
Navigators are tasked with being the primary liaison between the veteran and the VSO or any other community helps group, when it becomes evident that assistance is necessary. Veterans in need often are unable to determine which VSO is best suited to meet their current situation.
Navigators will also provide the primary data input as it is important that all VSOs, including Be Connected, be accountable for their work with each veteran. Personal visitation and follow-up will be a very important aspect of the Navigator’s responsibilities as well.
In part two of our story featuring Be Connected, we will explore some of the VSOs (Veteran Service Organizations) that are available and working with Be Connected and provide contact information for all of Arizona.