Unique partnershipp celebrates 10 years of helping veteransvet in MN

Minnesota Service CORE is celebrating a decade of supporting Minnesota veterans and strengthening military families. CORE, which stands for counseling and case management, outreach, referral and education, is dedicated to strengthening service members, veterans and their families by providing access to care for mental and behavioral health, employment, housing and financial counseling. The CORE program is a partnership between the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs (MDVA) and Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota (LSS).

“When CORE launched, it was the first program of its kind in the nation. Because Minnesota has Guard and Reserve members deploying regularly, we recognized the need to step up our support for men and women returning home to Minnesota,” said Commissioner Larry Shellito with the MDVA. “Veterans sacrifice a tremendous amount for our country, and it is our responsibility to help bring them ‘all the way home.’”

CORE provides assistance to individuals, children and families experiencing issues related to their well-being. This can include depression and anxiety disorders, PTSD, marital and family problems, divorce, addiction, unemployment and financial issues, as well as overall life stressors. CORE services are offered in-home, at local offices, or by phone. Additionally, crisis services are available as needed at any time and are always confidential.

After receiving initial funding in the 2008 Minnesota State Legislative Session, the program officially launched in October of that same year. The MDVA chose to partner with Lutheran Social Service because LSS has an extensive statewide network of care, as well as the expertise needed to manage multiple social service needs for veterans. LSS Behavioral Health staff are trained in trauma-informed care and actively foster understanding military culture by also employing veterans to serve other veterans. For veterans and families living in greater Minnesota, this program brings services to veterans who might not otherwise have access to care, based on their geographic location.

Over the last 10 years, the program has experienced steady growth, including expansion of family-centered programs and debt management. Military service members and their families can face frequent relocation, deployment and difficult transitions back to civilian life. In addition to the strain this can put on families, frequent moves can also lead to challenges for spouses to find employment, all of which can lead to financial instability and high levels of debt.

In its first year of operation, CORE served 189 veterans and their families. Last year, the program assisted 822 veterans and family members, up from 748 the previous year. The average number of new clients every month is 35. Although there is no cost to the participants, the CORE program bills through insurance and third-party payers whenever possible.

CORE has helped numerous veterans return home from military service and achieve or maintain well-being. Case workers are based in field offices located throughout the Twin Cities metro area and throughout Greater Minnesota. For more information, or to request services through CORE, contact your county veterans service officer. Find your CVSO at www.macvso.org or by calling 1-888-LinkVet (546-5838), MDVA’s one-stop customer service line for all Minnesota Veterans and their families.

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