Military & Veterans
In addition to the 24 million veterans nationwide who face unmet needs, thousands of military service members are returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with disabilities. They face many challenges, including support for their families and the need for disability services and job training and employment assistance.
Easter Seals is responding by developing community-based programs nationwide that provide support for families and individuals in employment, adult day programs, transportation, home modifications for accessibility needs, increased therapeutic recreation and camping opportunities.
The systems to assist service members and veterans with disabilities are over-stressed, underfunded and face a variety of organizational barriers. This is especially the case with deployed members of the Reserves or National Guard, as well as service members who are injured, ill, or going through medical rehabilitation or community reintegration.
Easter Seals is leveraging, integrating and building community capacity through federal, state and local resources to meet specific needs through information, services, supports and community resources. Easter Seals affiliates have launched a number of different programs to help meet these needs.
Camping & Recreation
Over 155,000 children have a parent deployed in Iraq or Afghanistan, resulting in lengthy separations from loved ones. Many families are experiencing multiple deployments, or have more than one family member deployed.
Services that support families learning to live with a newly-acquired disability are critical to a successful recovery. Easter Seals has expertise in providing therapeutic recreation and camping services, and is tailoring these programs and facilities to meet this need. These programs can improve health, function and well-being during times of recovery, and strengthen families by providing adjustments to newly acquired disabilities and times of respite.
Adult Day Services
Nationwide, there are over 6 million veterans age 65 or older. Many Easter Seals adult day service centers have contracts with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to provide services to older veterans and veterans with disabilities. Adult day services are one of several long-term care benefits that veterans are entitled to under the Millennium Healthcare Act. Adult day services provide therapeutic and social benefits to older veterans and younger veterans with disabilities.
At the national level, Easter Seals has worked with the VA's Central Office to improve the contracting process and revision of guidelines. Easter Seals is also educating the adult day industry as a whole on how to become better service providers to veterans and a better contracting partner with the VA.
Job Training and Employment
Of the over 24 million veterans nationwide, more than 700,000 are unemployed in any given month. Add to that 1.7 million service members who have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, many returning with newly acquired disabilities that now face occupational barriers as they reintegrate back into their home communities and seek gainful employment.
With more than 59 Easter Seals affiliates providing workforce development services in 140 centers in 39 states, major corporate sponsors are exploring strategies with Easters Seals Headquarters to hire veterans with disabilities throughout their organizations nationwide. Easter Seals affiliates across the country are positioned to facilitate employment for veterans with disabilities through a variety of models.