VA’s Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships (CFBNP) works with Veterans where they are — as they integrate back into their families, communities and careers as well as into places for moral and spiritual support.
The mission of the center is to develop partnerships with faith-based, nonprofit and community/neighborhood organizations to expand participation in VA programs in order to better serve the need of Veterans, their families, survivors, caregivers and other beneficiaries.
For the past eight years, the CFBNP has followed VA’s strategic goal of “empowering Veterans to improve their well-being by connecting them with organizations.” This serves as the impetus for the mission, vision and work of the center.
The center has engaged in diverse outreach and partnership efforts to support the White House and VA’s high-priority goal of eliminating Veteran homelessness. It has done so by collaboratively working with individual clergy and congregations from various faiths to assist Veterans in their communities.
Working with external and internal stakeholders, the center has reached hundreds of partner organizations through outreach events such as job fairs, business forums, denominational conferences at the local, regional and national levels, medical center stand-downs, VA regional outreach events and clergy training workshops. Each event, whether urban or rural, provided information on programs and services VA offers directly to Veterans, their families and community members.
To partner effectively with external entities, the CFBNP partners with VA’s staff offices and the three administrations: the Veterans Benefits Administration, the Veterans Health Administration and the National Cemetery Administration .
These partnerships made it easier for the center to address and take action on issues through collaborative work. For example, rural Veterans were connected to healthy food and VA resources through faith-based and non-profit organizations.
Approximately one-third of all Veterans live in rural areas and they are nearly twice as likely to be poor than their urban counterparts and also less likely to be within easy reach of services. The center’s partnership with the Military Family Research Institute at Purdue University connected Veterans in rural settings to food pantries at local churches via a pilot program titled Reaching Rural Veterans. Reaching this Veteran community has been a priority in recent years for not only the VA, but for other government agencies, including the Department of Agriculture.
Another example of reaching Veterans where they need to be served can be found in the center’s partnership with VA’s National Chaplain Center. Together, they implemented training programs for clergy, lay leaders and community members on how to recognize the signs and symptoms of emotional, mental and spiritual trauma in Veterans.
During these past eight years, the center is fortunate to have partnered and collaborated with the following VA offices and programs in implementing its vision, mission and goals.
VA’s CFBNP is keenly aware of the important role partnerships play in providing information about the programs and services available to and for our Veterans and their families. We are equipped and willing to assist you and the resources you need to become a collaborative partner with VA in order to serve our Veterans. Find out more about the center online at http://www.va.gov/cfbnparterships
About the center: The Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships was established on June 1, 2004, by Executive Order (EO) 13342, and reestablished with a name change by EO 13199 in February 2009. The EO’s guidance makes it clear that “faith-based organizations are eligible to participate in the Agencies’ social service programs on the same basis as any other private organization as well as participate in effective partnerships.”
Rev. E. Terri LaVelle serves as the director of VA’s Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships. She began her tenure at VA in September 2009. The work the center accomplishes is a credit to long-term team members that serve with her, Stephen Dillard, deputy director; Elona Williams, program specialist and the center’s newest team member, Erica Dramé, program specialist.