Serving Together, a program of EveryMind (servingtogetherproject.org) coordinates community-based resources for service members, veterans and their families in the D.C. region and strives to improve access to health, mental health and other services by drawing together knowledge and resources from local nonprofits and government agencies.
Serves: Metro region
What a donation buys:
• $250 pays for one community briefing to increase public knowledge about the needs of veterans and their families.
• $1,000 trains 10 individuals on how to identify the signs and symptoms of mental illness and how to help someone experiencing a mental health crisis.
• $10,000 supports veteran and family peer navigation services for 20 individuals.
• One day: Volunteer for RunforEveryMind, a 5K run and 3K walk.
Serving Together staff in their Rockville office, left to right, Jessica Fuchs, Christy Kenady and Julie Riggs. Photo by Michael Ventura
Helping veterans find local resources
By Joe Zimmermann
When Robert C. Cabness died at 89 in April 2015, his family wanted the World War II veteran to receive a military funeral. But they didn’t have his discharge paperwork or know who to contact to arrange that type of burial. “We didn’t know where to begin,” says his daughter, Diane Cabness of Gaithersburg. “We had a blank canvas. We didn’t know anything.”
A friend pointed Cabness to Serving Together, a program that connects veterans and their families to resources. Staffers walked her through the process of obtaining discharge paperwork, where to apply for burial and how to contact local veterans’ services. Her father was buried in Quantico National Cemetery in Triangle, Virginia, and Cabness says she doesn’t know how her family could have made it happen without the help of Serving Together. “They were extremely instrumental in getting us the information and the resources that we needed. Period,” she says.
Serving Together Program Director Jessica Fuchs says there are many organizations devoted to helping veterans, but vets don’t necessarily know about them or how to reach them.
Some veterans think their only option is the Department of Veterans Affairs. They might not know, for example, about local ministries that offer business suits for job interviews at no cost. “How do you Google what you don’t know how to Google?” Fuchs says. “That’s the problem—you may have heard of the big national things…but you don’t know about really great services [nearby].”
Based in Rockville, Serving Together assisted about 250 former members of the military in Maryland and Northern Virginia last year. The five staff members take calls from veterans and their families and help connect them to housing programs, mental health resources and other support systems. Serving Together is one of eight programs managed by EveryMind (formerly known as Mental Health Association of Montgomery County), a nonprofit that focuses on health and wellness among individuals and the community.
The staff members at Serving Together, all of whom are veterans or military spouses, often follow up with callers and do what they can to help. “They go the extra mile,” Cabness says. “If there were six stars, we would give them six stars.”