By partnering with local healthcare facilities, law enforcement, nonprofit organizations, and the community, we have been working on a Veteran Advocacy Program known as "Spartan Shield" to connect Veteran Advocates to at-risk veterans as early as possible. An “At-risk” veteran is any veteran that may be having issues with mental health, substance abuse, or financial hardship. Each Veteran Advocate must be a veteran themselves, along with taking training courses in mental health and first aid, which are provided free of cost, before they may serve as a Veteran Advocate in our program.
We believe that in regard to veterans in need of any kind of assistance, that there are three categories:
Veterans who need help, seek help, and get better
Veterans who need help, refuse help, and refuse to change
Veterans who need help, seek help, but stop when they meet any type of barrier
Our advocacy program works to combat the latter, as we find that when a veteran does reach out for some kind of assistance, that it is a window of opportunity that may not be open for long. Our Veteran Advocates look to hold that window open long enough to get the at-risk veteran to the assistance that they need. Our Veteran Advocates are constantly being educated, and in turn educate at-risk veterans and their support systems in the resources that are available for veterans in our area and across the country, and look to take the intimidation aspect out of getting help while keeping the at-risk veteran engaged until they are able to get to the next level of assistance or care.
While this project has been active, we are now working on developing an app where first responders can page a Veteran Advocate if needed. Our Veteran Advocates are NOT here to substitute for any type of medical care, nor do our Veteran Advocates give any type of medical care. We are the bridge between at-risk veterans and the care that they need by serving as a human algorithm for veteran resource connection.
It is a priority of our organization to build the relationships of veterans by providing experiences in which they can participate in activities with other veterans in their area. Through our latest program, "Troops on Trails" we will be taking veterans kayaking, fishing, mountain biking, camping, hiking and more in central Illinois on retreats covered by our organization. Below you will find a collection of pictures from past outreach events, collaborating with our local Illinois Veterans Home, care package projects, and more.
It is our long-term goal to build a transitional tiny home lodging facility for homeless veterans equipped with a treatment facility. The process has been arduous and was the initial focus of our organization until the COVID-19 pandemic forced us to divert our resources to where we saw the greatest need: immediate assistance with veteran mental health.
However, it is still our goal to build this facility, and have already partnered with High School District 214’s Architecture courses with student-developed blueprints for the project under the advisement of local engineering firms. As an organization, we have studied multiple facilities around the country to determine how we would like our facility to operate for the overall goal of taking in homeless veterans and giving them the tools that they need to rejoin society.