This Veterans Day, NCCARE360 is highlighting one of our respected network partners working with veterans and their families: Veterans Bridge Home.
Each year, Veterans Day offers an opportunity for Americans to honor all military service members who have served our country. It’s a day to recognize and give thanks for their courage, determination, and loyal service to the United States. With North Carolina being home to 12 military installations and over 730,000 veterans, NCCARE360 proudly joined forces with NCServes in July 2021 to ensure our state has a strong network of resources for its military and veteran community. NCServes is the country’s first coordinated system of public, private, and nonprofit organizations working together to provide support to military members and their families, and is used by many veterans-serving agencies, like Veterans Bridge Home, to coordinate health care and human services for this population.
We know that approximately 200,000 service members leave active duty each year and veterans are more likely to report health issues such as diabetes, smoking, heavy alcohol use, mental illness, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other chronic illnesses than those on active duty. These behaviors and conditions place veterans at greater risk for chronic diseases that are best managed by interdisciplinary teams. In North Carolina, the top service needs experienced by the veteran population include housing and shelter needs, employment and financial assistance, benefits navigation, and food assistance. Veterans Bridge Home is one organization working to link veterans and their families to the community and to resources that address these social needs.
Veterans Bridge Home serves as an entry point for veterans who don’t know where to turn to access support and services. They connect veterans and their families to the community through their network of partners and help them navigate needs like employment, create social connections, and settle their families by connecting them to the resources they need to be successful and thriving leaders in our community. Paul Berry served in the United States Marine Corps for 30 years, retiring as a Command Sergeant Major, and has been the Regional Network Director at Veterans Bridge Home for the past two years. He has been doing this type of work for more than half a decade. He highlighted some of the major ways that NCCARE360 has positively impacted the work of Veterans Bridge Home, which in turn helps to improve the health and wellbeing of our veteran population.
NCCARE360 helps assess for and identify unmet social needs through embedded screening questions built right into the platform. The screener assists network organizations in understanding what resources a person may be eligible for so they can make the best referral possible. Prior to the creation of NCServes and NCCARE360 organizations often tended to address one need at a time. For example, if a veteran presented with a request for housing, the organizations would tackle that need without questioning other potential needs. However, NCServes quickly realized that these veterans were returning because only one part of their need had been addressed—housing—when they also had transportation and food needs. Thanks to the screeners, coordinators at Veterans Bridge Home are now able to get veterans to the right services or resources, ensuring that whole-person health and well-being is addressed.
Paul also explained that unification with NCCARE360 has allowed Veterans Bridge Home to begin addressing family needs, as well. The NCCARE360 Network includes Resource Navigators supported by NC 211 who can support complex referrals and stay with a client through the referral process if needed. Veterans Bridge Home can now refer veterans’ partners, children, and other family members with identified social needs to the NCCARE360 Navigators who can connect them with services and resources available to civilians. Before unification, they were only able to refer clients to military resources.
“Yes, we work with that specific population of veterans and we’re proud of that, but we also know that if there are other stressors in that home, we want to be part of that solution and the NCCARE360 Navigators and NC 211 have been great partners in addressing those needs,” – Paul Berry, Regional Network Director, Veterans Bridge Home.
Another unexpected yet welcome benefit to joining the NCCARE360 Network has been an increase in funding opportunities. Through their partnership with NCCARE360, Veterans Bridge Home has been able to apply for and receive two new grants. They are the recipients of the NCCARE360 Health Equity Grants that were funded through the CDC’s COVID-19 Health Disparities Initiatives grant, which they are using to fund staff members, operational expenses, and event costs. They are also one of only two coordination centers to receive the Staff Sergeant Parker Gordon Fox Suicide Prevention Grant, which is their largest grant to date. This additional funding will allow them to continue to grow their capacity to better serve more veterans and their families.
Plugging into the NCCARE360 Network meant Veterans Bridge Home has also connected with other community organizations in the network, growing their partnerships and civic relationships. Paul found that the top 10 organizations sending referrals to Veterans Bridge Home has changed since joining the network, where many of the senders are no longer veteran-only serving organizations, but rather those that serve communities at large. Building relationships with these agencies helped change the playing field and allowed Veterans Bridge Home to embrace the no-wrong-door approach to care coordination. Now, if they receive referrals for non-veterans, they know they can refer them to an organization in the NCCARE360 Network or even to the NCCARE360 Navigators; they’re happy to use the opportunity to make their community partners aware of the federal money available for veterans that frees up local or state funding for civilians, helping to guarantee the best use of resources. Paul attributes this success to capabilities of the NCCARE360 network and technology.
Veterans Bridge Home is a staple among the military community, providing veterans and their families an opportunity to better navigate their unique social needs. They are also creating social connections to the communities and resources veterans need to be successful, healthy, and whole. This Veterans Day and every day, NCCARE360 is proud of the impact Veterans Bridge Home is making and we are honored to have them as a network partner.
Be sure to visit their website to learn more about their work and how you can help support NC’s veteran population and their families.
NCCARE360 is the first statewide network that unites health care and human services organizations with a shared technology that assesses for and identifies unmet social needs, and enables a coordinated, community-oriented, person-centered approach for delivering care in North Carolina. NCCARE360 is the result of a strong public-private partnership between the NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) and the Foundation for Health Leadership & Innovation (FHLI). The NCCARE360 implementation team includes United Way of NC, NC 211, Unite Us, and Expound Decision Systems.
For more information about NCCARE360, or any of its partner organizations, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.