A grass-roots initiative seeks to identify needs of the growing number of veterans in Brevard County and ensure that the community has the resources to meet them.
The “Community Blueprint for Veterans” was launched at the beginning of the year when more than 70 people attended an introductory session at the invitation of the Cape Canaveral Chapter of the Military Officers Association of America, which has more than 1,400 members locally.
Creation of a “Community Blueprint” is being encouraged by MOAA nationally, and 2-1-1 Brevard is among the Brevard organizations participating. (The local initiative is highlighted in this new video.)

MOAA-CC invited the Community Foundation for Brevard to co-lead the initiative in Brevard County. To date, the initiative is holding forums every two months for veteran-serving organizations to learn about one another other and exchange ideas.

Sandi Scannelli, president and CEO of the Community Foundation, has been facilitating the forums.

“Successful collaborations are built upon relationships and a shared vision for what could be,” she said. “Everyone participating in this initiative shares a vision for a rapid, successful re-entry of our military service personnel to civilian life and communities.

“Our first goal is to learn more about each other, build a deeper understanding of each other’s work, and then work together to determine how the community and its services can best improve the transition for those who have served our nation so sacrificially.”

Several subgroups have been formed, including one for Behavioral Health to address issues such as mental health and substance abuse.

Belinda Stewart, 2-1-1 Brevard communications manager, is working with the Behavioral Health committee, which is led by Dr. Lori Parsons, president and CEO of Family Counseling Centers of Brevard, a United Way partner agency.

“One critical issue that we know we need to address is the stigma of seeking help for mental illness, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, or substance abuse – especially in the military,” Stewart said. “It’s not easy for anyone to admit weakness, but it proves even more difficult for our warriors, our heroes, who have had to be so strong.”

“We can have all the resources in the world, but they’re not any good if many people won’t use them.”

The next Community Blueprint meeting will be Nov. 21. For more information or to participate, contact Carole Williams-Hayes, a Mission Continues fellow who will be working on the project, at the Community Foundation at 321-752-5505 or Blueprint@cfbrevard.org.

Click here to learn more about the Community Blueprint model.

The Cape Canaveral MOAA Chapter meets at noon on third Tuesdays at The Tides at Patrick Air Force Base. For information about MOAA-CC, contact Courtney Yelle at 321-782-3992.