Tarrant United Way zeros in on meeting needs of returning military

Posted Monday, Feb. 18, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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This is not a slow time for the people at United Way of Tarrant County. It's not like they need to be looking for something else to do.

But exactly as they are about to receive and evaluate the first community service provider applications for grants from United Way's latest fundraising drive, another job has come along.

Lockheed Martin and Bell Helicopter have given the agency $300,000 for a new fund to provide assistance to members of the military who are returning to civilian life in local communities.

That's a tough assignment, and a crucial one, but United Way is probably the best organization around to get it done.

United Way President Tim McKinney says the needs range from unemployment and financial problems to post-traumatic stress disorder.

As a matter of fact, United Way isn't exactly sure what all the local needs are, say McKinney and Chief Operating Officer Ann Rice. They plan what Rice called a "rapid assessment" of those needs with the help of the Veterans Coalition of Tarrant County.

The guiding force behind VETCO is Judge Brent Carr, who presides over County Criminal Court No. 9, a designated diversion court dealing with charges against veterans.

Incorporated in the needs assessment will be a look at what services already are being offered to returning members of the military in Tarrant County. Find the needs, find the services, find the gaps between them and don't duplicate existing services.

By mid-April, United Way hopes to send out requests for proposals from service providers, outlining which types of services the agency plans to fund. If all goes well, the first grants should go out in July, Rice said.

Meanwhile, United Way will be looking for additional donations to build up the Veterans Fund, hoping to stretch its services out more than just an initial year.

This is a big task, but United Way has built a reputation in recent years as able to zero in on meeting specific needs.

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