LOS ANGELES, CA (January 23, 2014) – Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) today announced the California expansion of its innovative Rapid Response Referral Program (RRRP) at a mental health summit at the Annenberg Space For Photography in Los Angeles. IAVA also highlighted the program during an event with San Diego veterans Wednesday night at the USS Midway Museum.
RRRP is a new approach to supporting post-9/11 veterans by directly connecting them and their families to local resources and to one-on-one support with IAVA’s Veteran Transition Managers. RRRP helps cut through red tape and provides California post-9/11 veterans and their families with access to services ranging across employment, education, housing, mental health and more.
IAVA started the RRRP program in New York City, and within a year it received a strong response and has served more than 1,000 veterans. Recognizing the need for this program nationally, IAVA is expanding RRRP across California, where there are an estimated 237,000 post-9/11 veterans. IAVA is also expanding RRRP throughout New York State.
Veterans can contact a RRRP case manager by calling 855-91-RAPID (855-917-2743), emailing email@example.com, or visiting www.IAVA.org/RRRP.
“The Rapid Response Referral Program is an innovative approach to supporting post-9/11 veterans in California as they navigate the tough decisions and many hurdles that often accompany their transition home from serving in Iraq and Afghanistan,” said IAVA CEO and Founder Paul Rieckhoff. “We need to meet new veterans where they are, and be willing to provide high-touch support through non-traditional and convenient ways. To access RRRP and a case manager, you don’t have to come into an office – help is just a phone call or email away.”
California veterans face a number of critical challenges. More than 400,000 veterans are stuck in the VA backlog, including about 10,000 each in the Los Angeles and San Diego Regional Offices and more than 12,000 in the Oakland Regional Office. Suicide remains a top concern for new veterans: at least 22 veterans commit suicide every day, and a new study has found that the suicide rate among young male veterans rose by 44 percent in the past three years. New veterans are also now facing a cut to their retirement as a result of a bipartisan budget deal.
The expansion of RRRP to California has been made possible through the generous support of the Resnick Family Foundation and the Annenberg Foundation.
RRRP is more than a hotline. Veterans who call work with a designated Veteran Transition Manager who considers all of their needs and goals, and will work with them on those over the long-term. Transition Managers help veterans get connected to resources for any issues they may be confronting – from mental health issues, to financial struggles, to legal aid – and advocates on their behalf when needed, to ensure benefits are received.
One veteran was facing financial hardship when he connected with the RRRP program. He later wrote:
“After coming home from the military, I started school while receiving the post 9/11 GI bill. After I started school, my wife had a brain hemorrhage, and I was forced to withdraw and take care of my family. With two children under the age of three, we found ourselves buried in school debt. Thankfully, my wife recovered, but we soon realized that we couldn’t make it financially. We reached out to IAVA and met Ryan, a fantastic caseworker. He helped lay out options and offered us new resources. More importantly, he offered a bit of motivation. We have leaned on Ryan for help with housing and moving and he has not disappointed.”
Note to media: Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 212-982-9699 to speak with IAVA leadership.
Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (www.IAVA.org) is the leading post-9/11 veteran empowerment organization (VEO) with the most diverse and rapidly growing membership in America. As a non-profit founded in 2004, IAVA’s mission is to connect, unite and empower post-9/11 veterans. Celebrating its 15th anniversary, IAVA has connected more than 1.2 million veterans with resources and community, and provided more than 8,000 veterans with personalized support from IAVA’s Master’s level social workers.