Directory Links Wounded Warriors, Families to Resources

WASHINGTON — From ben­e­fits and com­pen­sa­tion to edu­ca­tion and train­ing, an online direc­to­ry is pro­vid­ing wound­ed war­riors, vet­er­ans and their fam­i­lies a direct con­nec­tion to thou­sands of state, local and nation­al resources.

“There’s so much infor­ma­tion on the Web right now, it’s nice to have one place to access all of the con­tent, the ser­vices, the infor­ma­tion you need,” John R. Camp­bell, deputy assis­tant sec­re­tary of defense for wound­ed war­rior care and tran­si­tion pol­i­cy, told Amer­i­can Forces Press Ser­vice. “It real­ly per­mits the ser­vice mem­ber and fam­i­ly the abil­i­ty to get infor­ma­tion direct­ly.”

The Defense, Labor and Vet­er­ans Affairs depart­ments cre­at­ed the Nation­al Resource Direc­to­ry — locat­ed at http://www.nationalresourcedirectory.gov/ — to link wound­ed war­riors, ser­vice mem­bers, vet­er­ans, their fam­i­lies and care­givers to nation­wide resources that sup­port recov­ery, reha­bil­i­ta­tion and com­mu­ni­ty rein­te­gra­tion, Camp­bell explained.

Toward that end, the direc­to­ry con­tains infor­ma­tion on a broad range of top­ics, includ­ing ben­e­fits and com­pen­sa­tion, edu­ca­tion and train­ing, employ­ment, care­giv­er sup­port, health, hous­ing, and trans­porta­tion and trav­el.

With such a vast amount of infor­ma­tion, Camp­bell said, a con­sid­er­able effort went into cre­at­ing user-friend­ly nav­i­ga­tion tools to help peo­ple pin down resources quick­ly, whether it’s local grass­roots efforts or nation­al-lev­el ini­tia­tives. Peo­ple can search for a resource or pro­gram by sub­ject, state or ter­ri­to­ry. A recent addi­tion is a state wid­get that peo­ple can cus­tomize and embed in home pages, blogs and oth­er sites. Once there, the infor­ma­tion is updat­ed auto­mat­i­cal­ly.

New pro­grams and resources are added to the direc­to­ry as quick­ly as agen­cies and orga­ni­za­tions can roll them out. Experts always are work­ing to ensure they’re hit­ting on the hot top­ics for troops and their fam­i­lies, Camp­bell not­ed, and as a result, the site is con­stant­ly evolv­ing.

Camp­bell cit­ed vet­er­an home­less­ness as an exam­ple.

The U.S. Inter­a­gency Coun­cil on Home­less­ness is work­ing with the Vet­er­ans Affairs and Hous­ing and Urban Devel­op­ment depart­ments to elim­i­nate home­less­ness entire­ly by VA’s goal of 2015.

The direc­to­ry has devot­ed an entire sec­tion to home­less­ness, fea­tur­ing resources that offer every­thing from emer­gency hous­ing to employ­ment assis­tance.

Spouse employ­ment is anoth­er area of growth on the direc­to­ry, Camp­bell not­ed, par­tic­u­lar­ly with new pro­grams and resources in the works. The Labor, Com­merce and Defense depart­ments and the Small Busi­ness Admin­is­tra­tion, for exam­ple, are work­ing with the busi­ness com­mu­ni­ty to expand career options for spous­es. Offi­cials will ensure new spouse employ­ment resources are added to the direc­to­ry as they arise, he said.

While offi­cials always are on the look­out for new infor­ma­tion to post to the direc­to­ry, feed­back from troops and their fam­i­lies plays an inte­gral role in keep­ing the site cur­rent, Camp­bell said. The site includes an easy-to-locate sec­tion where peo­ple can sub­mit resources for con­sid­er­a­tion or pass on praise for out­stand­ing ser­vice.

“We’ll take that resource and, if we find out it’s a good one, we’ll put it up,” he said. Offi­cials ver­i­fy each resource before post­ing, he added. A non­prof­it orga­ni­za­tion, for exam­ple, must be in good stand­ing with the Bet­ter Busi­ness Bureau before it can be con­sid­ered for the direc­to­ry.

“That’s the idea: to make it easy, make it effi­cient, make it valu­able,” Camp­bell said.

To fur­ther that effort, he said, a mobile ver­sion of the direc­to­ry will launch in the spring for smart phone users.

“The tar­get audi­ence is younger ser­vice mem­bers and fam­i­lies,” he added. “We’re real­ly excit­ed about that.”

Camp­bell said he’s received great feed­back on the site, and is encour­aged by a vast improve­ment in vis­i­tors, which he attrib­ut­es to word of mouth. In the last quar­ter of 2010, the site’s unique vis­i­tors jumped by 115 per­cent, he said.

“We’re con­tin­u­ing to get rein­force­ment that we’re doing the right thing,” he said.

Source:
U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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