Within our community, a strong grassroots effort is underway to help veterans and their families. This effort grew out of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars with the Veterans Administration being overwhelmed with providing services for these returning veterans while satisfying current needs of existing veterans and their families. Epilepsy Foundation of Southeast Tennessee (EFSETN) along with approximately 50 other agencies and businesses are a part of this community grassroots effort. This grassroots coalition of agencies is called the Southeast Tennessee Veterans Coalition. Presently, EFSETN chairs the Coalition.
The Coalition meets on a monthly basis at Siskin Hospital. Some of the agencies involved include the Veterans Administration, Chattanooga Area Brain Injury Association, The Salvation Army, Catholic Charities, Hospice of Chattanooga, Parkridge Hospital, TN Department of Labor and Workplace Development, Alzheimer's Association, Goodwill Industries, Signal Centers, Homeless Health Care Center, Area Agency on Aging and Disability, Avalon Hospice, United Way of Greater Chattanooga, Chattanooga Community Kitchen, Chattanooga Housing Authority, Fortwood Centers, Chattanooga Housing Authority, Alexian Brothers, CADACE and Southeast Transit System.
EFSETN is involved in this effort as a result of the traumatic brain injuries (TBI) suffered by those serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. TBI has become the "signature injury of this global war on terror". The long-term effects of these head injuries are a great concern among veteran advocates and medical experts across the nation who understand the heightened risk that returning war heroes have for a range of post traumatic problems. Epilepsy is prominent among these risks.
With the needs of veterans and their families being so extensive and with so many agencies wanting to provide services, United Way 211 agreed to serve as the central contact number for a veteran or their family to call. United Way 211 would interview the veteran, determine the service needed and then refer to the appropriate agency. Further, United Way 211 then follows up with the veteran to ensure that the veteran service need was satisfied. This system became effective January 15, 2012.
This is a tremendous effort that continues to grow and we shall share periodic updates and services provided by the Coalition with you.