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The calls come in daily to the Alamo Area Council of Governments (AACOG) with one military veteran after another desperately seeking immediate help.
Many of them are familiar with the VA system for medical treatment. Yet there are many other providers offering a plethora of programs and services – only if veterans knew the various options available to them.
Soon, they will.
The successful national program, AmericaServes, will launch next month in the Alamo City its 10th center in the country – first in Texas. The project, TXServes, administered by The Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) at Syracuse University through a $5 million Walmart Foundation donation, will allow the San Antonio area to plug the holes in services for veterans that leave many of them falling through the cracks.
The main task at hand is to forge an unprecedented collaboration between dozens of service providers in the San Antonio area working to help veterans with a centralized nerve center at AACOG, the organization tasked with day-to-day management of TXServes,
“We’re thrilled,” said Diane Rath, AACOG Executive Director. “We’ve put great emphasis on boosting our military neighbors and TXServes will only further empower that partnership by allowing us to serve as a beacon for veterans, who have given us so much through their tremendous sacrifice.”
For its part, IVMF determined that choosing AACOG as its on-the-ground partner for its Texas expansion was a no-brainer.
“The Alamo Area Council of Governments has provided the leadership, coaching and relationships to bring community coordination to a new level,” said Army Col. (ret.) Jim McDonough, IVMF Managing Director. “Veterans, active military, National Guardsmen, reservists and – most importantly – their families can all be connected to the rich tapestry of Alamo Area human service providers in new, streamlined and accountable ways.”
The Military and Veteran Community Collaborative (MVCC), a nonprofit agency in San Antonio, was instrumental in working with IVMF in developing TXServes. Army Maj. Gen. (ret.) Alfred “Freddie” Valenzuela, MVCC president and board chairman, welcomed the news as nothing short of the highlight of his 34-year military career.
“I think that something like this is long overdue and AACOG is the right organization at the right time to take on this mission,” he said. “We preach that we’re Military City USA but we don’t always live up to it and with TXServes, we’re confident AACOG will foster a love affair for our military and community.”
According to a 2016 MVCC study, the San Antonio metro area is home to the 9th largest veteran community in the country with 200,880 – more than 12 percent of the area’s overall population. Most of these vets served in Vietnam and the pre-9-11 Gulf Wars. More details on the study and information on MVCC can be found at www.mvcc-sa.org. For more on IVMF and AmericaServes, go to www.ivmf.syracuse.edu. Learn about AACOG and its many programs and services at www.aacog.com.