The purpose of the Lake County Veterans and Family Services Foundation (LCVFSF) is to connect Veterans and their families with each other and with the benefits and resources they earned and deserve, regardless of discharge status free and confidentially. It serves individuals located in Lake, McHenry and Southern Kenosha counties with a one-stop approach facilitated by certified Veteran Peer Specialists. In addition to navigational assistance, with the help of an extensive partner network, LCVFSF provides programming to both Veterans and the larger community.
The program began in 2010 with a grant from the Department of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services (SAMHSA), a sub-set of the Department of Health and Human Services. Its initial goal was to fill local gaps in VA, VAC and DOD services, screen individuals for eligibility for services, support family members, and connect with veterans not served by the VA. Now the organization benefits from a collaborative relationship with the VA. Its programs both align to government agencies, connects individuals to the VA, VAC or DOD when appropriate, and also offers alternatives for those who are not comfortable reaching out to the government agencies or who are ineligible for certain opportunities.
LCVFSF acts as a one-stop service hub run by combat-experienced Veteran Peer Specialists. It utilizes a multidimensional care model to deliver programs or provide referrals that address various topics/needs including depression and family deployment issues, PTSD, homelessness, financial issues, substance abuse, legal challenges, education, and employment. In addition, the organization provides emergency grants to service members (less than $750 and not paid directly to service member), sends Christmas packages to deployed military members, facilitates a speaker series, presents on military culture, and hosts an annual run for suicide awareness. Finally, it operates a Veteran Community Partner Network that meets bi-monthly to discuss ways the community can better address service gaps for veterans in the region and offers a DryHootch Drop-In Center for veterans.
Note: “Hootch” is a military term for a hut or safe place to sleep during combat. The term “dry” denotes the organization’s mission to provide a social gathering place for Veterans that is free of alcohol. As such, the concept behind “Dryhootch” was a desire to establish a café-like environment dedicated to “helping Veterans who survived the war, survive the peace”.
Because of its role in the community, the organization is part of the My VA Community Model and is a recognized Community Partner with Illinois Joining Forces, the statewide, public-private network of veteran and military serving organizations. This means it has been designated to provide community-based referrals and local programming to Service Members and their families in the region that compliment VA and DOD services.
In 2017, the organization connected with individuals 18,560 times through events, training presentations, on-air programming or at the drop-in center. It has facilitated training for 982 individuals, had over 3,200 calls or drop-ins at the DryHootch Center (not unique), and handled 940 issues. The organization uses Unite Us software to track clients and needs.
The organization does not accept any government funding because government regulations are too inflexible and restrictive to be innovative. It also notes government funding is inconsistent, subject to political agendas, and produces an enormous amount of distracting red tape.
We offer FREE support services to Veterans, active duty service members, Guardsmen, Reservists and their familiy members in a confidential setting.
Veterans, Service Members and their families are invited to find support for:
- Linkage to benefits
- Sexual trauma
- Post traumatic stress
- Traumatic brain injury
- Grief and loss of those who didn't make it home
- Deployment, re-deployment, discharge and re-integration adjustment issues
- Depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, problems with substance abuse