Finding and Recruiting Veterans for Community Service

Abstract: 

Engaging veterans and military families in national service and community volunteering is explicitly mentioned in the Serve America Act, and many programs across the nation are making concerted efforts to do so. Recruiting the help of veterans as members/volunteers in veteran-serving programs could benefit all involved, as veterans are uniquely equipped to understand the needs of those being served. This practice helps volunteer programs locate and recruit veterans in their communities.

Issue:

Many civilian organizations wish to recruit veterans into national service or volunteering efforts, but aren't exactly sure how to locate or connect with this population within their community. 

Action:

Find the veterans in your community.

State Department of Veterans Affairs: Your State Department of Veterans Affairs can be an effective place to start when trying to identify the veterans in your community. The Department of Defense provides every State Department of Veterans Affairs access to (and an annual report of) the names of all military personnel returning to their state after service. Be aware, however, that while some VA departments have integrated that report into their activities, some have not used it at all or don't even know it exists. 

County Veterans Service Officers: CVSOs are very localized resources, and every state has them (most states have many). They're county-based and task-organized, sometimes in the State Department of Veterans Affairs. They also have a clear picture of where the veterans may be in your community.

Inter-Service Family Assistance Committee: Get in touch with your local ISFAC; they're in every single state, and they're supported by your National Guard. You'll find them in your State National Guard's Unit — more specifically, in the family support area of your National Guard Unit. For folks that understand military-speak, that's your S-1 shop or your 1 shop. This year they were renamed to Joining Community Forces Organizations, but some people still refer to them as ISFAC. It's also a great resource to be able to touch returning service members; they now serve guard, reserve, and active components, although it is a National Guard resource, so they'll have the widest network of connections with the National Guard and reserve component in your state.

Plan specific recruitment strategies.

Program example:  American Legion Auxiliary Call to Service Corps Consortium: 1) outreach to local veterans employment representatives and county veterans service officers; 2) posting of announcements on employment search engines and websites popular among veterans and military service members; 3) promotion of service opportunities among the consortium members' own members and supporters; 4) distribution of a global service opportunity listing to the e-mail contact list of Mission: Serve, a military-civilian coalition.

Partner strategically to recruit members who are veterans.

Program example:  Iowa Green Veterans AmeriCorps program will partner with Iowa Veteran Affairs, Iowa WORKS, Iowa Workforce Development, Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation Services, and others that have existing staff dedicated to recruiting veterans to identify a diverse pool of veterans to serve as members.

Be inclusive in recruitment efforts.

Program example:  Operation Desert Home targets the following groups for recruitment as members: disabled veterans, military spouses, and youth from military families. If you live in an area with a larger population of older veterans, do recruit them to serve as volunteers in service to and alongside veterans (and their families) of more recent conflicts.

For more information:

Related Resources: 

Fact Sheet: Supporting and Engaging Veterans and Military Families

Engaging Veterans and Families to Enhance Service Delivery

Sample Outreach Materials

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