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From a Community with Genius to State with Gravitas: One Touch Can Now Do It All

By Colonel (U.S. Army, Ret.) Jim McDonough, Managing Director, IVMF, and Ilario Pantano, Senior Director, IVMF

“It takes more than a village. It takes a community with genius,” we wrote one year ago as NCServes-Metrolina, in partnership with Charlotte Bridge Home, “helped transform the means by which this community now cares for its transitioning service members, veterans and their families.” This past Friday, at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte, we celebrated a second successful year of operations within NCServes-Metrolina, North Carolina’s first community-based network of resources, services and care specifically organized with one purpose in mind: to best-serve area service members, veterans and their families. Operating now as one of twelve AmericaServes communities coming to life around the country, NCServes has blossomed across the Carolinas as a multi-state array of integrated networks built upon a series of community-based collective impact models improving upon care for military-connected members and their families.

From the “Genius Cluster” that first emerged in Charlotte, this novel Public-Private Partnership spread to the Raleigh/Fayetteville communities in partnership with the USO of North Carolina, then onward to the great military installations of our Carolina Coast. Just this summer that march continued, to a fourth networked community launched in the Mountains, this time in partnership with the venerable Asheville Buncombe Community Christian Ministry (ABCCM). South Carolina has even joined the team with an integrated network of its own, SCServes, connecting clients and filling the gaps across state lines. Gravitas has arrived in the Carolinas, with all the earnestness and seriousness required to support those who serve and their families as a nation should, and now can.

The Carolinas lead the way for the nation. While each of these Carolina networks is different and reflects a unique cultural and geographic composition, they share a common commitment and universal set of standards. They exist because of the support of private funders from the Leon Levine Foundation, to the Walmart Foundation, and many others in between. And they employ a common methodology and software platform, all in keeping with the tenets of collective impact.

What this means is that North Carolina, unlike any other state, can service the needs of a veteran, a service member, or their family, with one-touch, across a range of 15 human service areas from education and housing to legal services and employment. State-of-the-art technology supports a truly end-to-end, one-touch, customer experience that mirrors the Block Chain methodology sweeping private industries across the country and globe.

What this also means for the heroic North Carolinians who have worn the flag of our country is that not only do they have faster, better access to more care, but that care is now more accountable, because the network tracks all outcomes, all the time. So as we seek to weave together stellar nonprofit partners like the Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic that recently opened in Fayetteville, offering free and immediate mental health care and counseling services, with Goodwill Industries and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, we now have an accurate, transparent, and timely way to track, manage, and more importantly, anticipate the future needs of the state’s military-connected members and their families.

All-in, five networks, with over 250 providers have serviced almost 5,000 veterans. More importantly, they have met these veterans’ needs on a case-by-case basis, need-by-individual-need, with a 71% successful outcome rate among over 8,800 closed service requests. No other approach in the veterans’ sector can report similar outcomes across such a broad range of human service needs. And despite women being only 8% of North Carolina’s veteran population, 19% of our veteran clients in the state are women. Clearly this new approach isn’t just veteran-friendly, it has also been appealing to women veterans at a higher rate.

Until recently, this cutting-edge work was funded entirely by corporate philanthropy, but recently, Mecklenburg County joined the ‘Genius Cluster’ by committing to partner with this effort that both makes referrals to a variety of county services, while at the same time receiving clients, in true bilateral fashion, from across the county’s nonprofit provider base. In the end, it means that no man or woman is left behind as we work to improve the conditions here in Charlotte and across the state.

We are hopeful that more partners at the county and state level commit to improving the lives of veterans they way that Mecklenburg County and our philanthropic partners have demonstrated. The data is here to prove it, the results are real.

Gravitas has a home here in the Tar Heel State.

Colonel (Ret., U.S. Army) Jim McDonough and Ilario Pantano are both former state’s Directors of Veterans Affairs. McDonough for New York and Pantano for North Carolina. Today they lead IVMF’s AmericaServes initiatives and in August 2016 published “To address veterans issues, it takes more than a village” in the Charlotte News and Observer.

Email: [email protected] and [email protected]

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