Need access to veterans services? Hotline will answer questions

A defense contractor has partnered with the United Way of the Greater Dayton Area to call on area business and others to contribute money to launch a Miami Valley veterans’ hotline by Veterans Day next November.

SRC, which has a Fairborn office with work geared toward Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, has contributed $120,000, with a goal to get other companies and donors to give a matching amount for a total of $240,000 by June 30, said Lisa Mondello, a company spokeswoman.

“We’re pretty confident we can get there,” she said. “We know there’s a lot of companies in the area that support veterans and if everybody steps forward and makes even a small donation we can get there.”

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The around-the-clock VetsLinks hotline, operating everyday of the year, would help veterans navigate local, state and federal agencies and connect them with services, according to Rosalie Bonacci-Roberts, United Way VetsLink program manager.

Often, veterans may not know or have trouble finding what they need, she said.

“It’s frustrating at best and may act as a barrier to stressed, ill, aging or disabled veterans and their caretakers,” she said.

The call-in service would start with two counselors to answer veterans’ questions. They would dial HelpLink 2-1-1 and be prompted for the option.

“One of the benefits of VetsLink is as a database we keep the calls logged,” she said. “We will follow-up with the callers to see if they get the services they need and if not, why not.”

The region has more than 127,000 veterans in a nine-county region in Montgomery, Greene, Warren, Preble, Butler, Clark, Champaign, Madison and Clinton counties.

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“We’re anticipating as they become more aware and reach out to them, the use (of the hotline) will increase,” Bonacci-Roberts said.

The United Way had targeted the start-up of the VetsLink hotline in late 2016at its Dayton call center, but securing the dollars needed to launch the program has been a challenge, she said.

“We think now, with this challenge grant, we’ll be able to find the resources and the support to launch on Veterans Day this year,” she said.

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Donors may contact the United Way directly or mail a check to the non-profit charity at 33 W. First St., Suite 500, Dayton, Ohio 45402.

The United Way launched a hotline for senior citizens in 2016: SilverLink connects them to financial assistance, food pantries and other needs, according to Catherine Myers, a community outreach coordinator.

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