Who We Are

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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, their family members and the larger community.

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. Alternative programs offered are equine therapy, fishing club, painting, weekly coffee klatches in five locations, professional sports outings, service platoon volunteer opportunities, and many more.  Additionally, 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, holds presentations on military culture, and hosts an annual Ruck March 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”.

The program began in 2010 with a grant from the Department of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (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 receiving services from the VA.  After a great deal of collaborative work, LCVFSF and the James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center and the Lake County Veterans Assistance Commission act together in supporting the needs of the Veteran population. The Foundation's programs align to all government agencies, connects individuals to the VA, VAC or DOD when appropriate, and offers alternatives for those who are not comfortable reaching out to the government agencies or who are ineligible for certain benefits or resources.

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 2018, LCVFSF connected with individuals 21,386 times through events, training presentations, on-air programming or at the drop-in center. It facilitated training for over 1000 individuals, had over 6,295 calls or drop-ins at the DryHootch Center (not unique), and handled 970 issues. The organization uses Unite Us software to track clients and needs.

The Lake County Veterans and Family Services Foundation is a 501c3 non-profit charity and, therefore, does not accept any government funding.  Moreover, such funding is extremely restrictive and inflexible, limiting our opportunities to be innovative for those in need of services. Our uniqueness is the major feature of our differentiation, and it appeals to our target Veteran or Service Member.  

We offer FREE support services to Veterans, active duty service members, Guardsmen, Reservists and their familiy members in a confidential setting.

  • Any American Veteran with any type of discharge.
  • Family members/support persons of Veterans or Service Members.
  • Families of the fallen.

Veterans, Service Members and their families are invited to find support for:

  • Homelessness
  • 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

Testimonials to Our Vision from Those Who Know

For all of our readers.  This note was handed to one of our Peers from a very sincere sixth grade student:

4/16/2019

THANK YOU FOR SERVING OUR COUNTRY!

Dear Veteran:

I would like to thank you for serving our country, keeping our nation free and for all the sacrifices that you have made.  I have a lot of cousins that are in the Navy right now  The willingness of America's Veterans like you, to sacrifice your life and your time with your family, I give you my thanks.  I will have gratitude forever because of the cost that you paid for our nation's freedom.  Because of you, I know that I will always and forever be able to pursue my dreams.  You are so very brave and will always be a hero to me.  I know that I will be forever grateful for how much you have inspired and encouraged me.  Your unselfishness, courage and your willingness to protect our freedom...there are no words to express my thanks and my gratitude. 

From the bottom of my heart,

Grace B., St. Joseph's School, Vancouver, Washington

_________________________________________

Dear LCVFSF:

It is every Soldier's honor to serve our great country and her people. Your care packages made that service that much more rewarding. All the Soldiers here thank you for your care packages. It is very rewarding to see such tangible examples of your gratitude for our service. As we answer our nation's call, it gives us strength and personal satisfaction knowing our efforts are noticed by you. We would love to send you pictures capturing the many Soldiers enjoying your care packages but there are restrictions on pictures outside the command. We trust you will enjoy a lasting satisfaction that your kindness touched every Soldier's heart here. Thank you!

On behalf of the Task Force 51 Commander and all the Soldiers,

Chaplain (LTC) Douglas L. Prentice

 

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 Thank You for starting this organization for our fellow vets. Many are reluctant to go directly to the VA for help or even a national service organization. Your organization provides an alternative and a bridge.

 

When first arriving in Florida I was amazed at how many vets there were. I eat at the country clubs a lot and have had many conversations with fellow vets and their spouses. It is AMAZING how many have not filed for benefits they deserve. Several of their wives have commented to me when their husbands go for a bathroom break that the husband is having a terrible time dealing with their WW2, Korea and Vietnam service and the wife does not know what to do.

 

I try to steer the conversation subtly towards the mental health issues that vets have when they return and often hear the reply, "the VA is all screwed up" and don't want to get involved. My opinion is it is just one of the many excuses we can make up when we are in denial of needing help.

 

It is frustrating and heartbreaking to see them going through this, and especially on the wife's part. I do what I can. A few have responded positively when I suggested how to file for a claim, etc. I wish I were close enough to you guys to volunteer! Anyway, we do what we can to help our brothers in arms... Who could better understand them... Sorry I have rambled on. Thanks again...

Semper Gumby. John B., USMC, Vietnam 1970

 

 

 

 

Hey pb,

I'm proud to tell you that after a long hard battle I will be moving back into my home in July. My wife and I completed all of our counseling and have been on a path to building a better marriage. Everything about our relationship has improved. I can't tell you enough how much I have changed since I first met you. I feel like a completely different person. I feel like I got a restart on this thing called life. I can not thank you enough for your support.

J.R.