Arizona nonprofit starts Veterans Directory

Articles, Veterans |

When veterans fall on hard times, there are often many ways in which they can get help. However, while plenty of organizations exist to help veterans receive anything from medical care to job opportunities, it's not always easy for those former service members to track down every option available to them. To that end, a non-profit in Arizona recently created a directory to help those in the Grand Canyon State get a better handle on things when they need a leg up.

There are currently more than half a million veterans living in Arizona alone, making it fertile ground for a project like the Veterans Directory, according to a report from the Arizona Republic. On the site, veterans can look up a number of different services for both themselves and their families, as well as learn about all the veteran-owned businesses in their area that they can easily support. The site has been open since May, and has data about job opportunities, training classes, financial help, legal advice, events for veterans, and more.

A new website will allow Arizona Veterans to find crucial information and services.A new website will allow Arizona Veterans to find crucial information and services.

How it started
The Veterans Directory began when a Vietnam vet approached its CEO, Danita Rios, at another veteran's funeral and mentioned that the deceased's death (a suicide) might have been avoidable if the victim had better access to mental health services, through a "Yellow Pages" type of website, the report said. Four years later, the site was a reality, with plenty of fundraising and prep work in between. Currently, 90 percent of the people who work for the site or serve on its board are veterans. Private contributors, donators, and other funding helped get the site off the ground.

"It's been a beautiful, beautiful creation so far," Rios told the newspaper. "It can be a daunting, time-consuming task to comb through the hundreds of websites to find the right information about services. The Veterans Directory makes it easy by curating all the relevant information veterans in Arizona need when it comes to thinking about what's next."

Ongoing needs
Any veteran-owned businesses, or services that help former service members in some way, can be listed on the site, the report said. However, they have to submit themselves for approval through a form available through the Veterans Directory itself, and will be added after a review of their credentials.

The fact of the matter is that veterans face a lot of challenges, and sites like this can go a long way, not only toward helping them take small steps forward, but potentially changing their entire lives. That's because something as simple as a job with a good salary can often mean the difference between life and death for those who are struggling with some of the most common symptoms that can befall vets after they get out of the service. Issues like PTSD and depression need to be addressed as quickly and directly as possible. Fortunately, there now seems to be a growing number of options, including the Veterans Directory, to help them do just that.