SCServes – Lowcountry Network Launches To Help Area Veterans

By Karina Bolster,

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) – A new network launched Tuesday for Lowcountry veterans aims to make it easier to find services like employment and healthcare.

SCServes – Lowcountry is an online database which lists a variety of organizations that specialize in different fields.

These organizations, like Hire Heroes USA, SC Works Trident, and Vets4Warriors range from finding jobs and housing to ways of dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Currently 37 groups are involved in this partnership.

Marie Elana Roland, Founder and CEO of Military Community Connection, said they continue to look for more organizations to join the initiative.

“It’s been a long time coming,” Roland said. “We work with so many veterans, that when they walk through the door they have more than one service. It will streamline the services for them and no veteran will be left behind anymore.”

Created at Syracuse University, the initiative has already traveled to New York, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina.

Organizers said having a network like this in South Carolina was needed.

According to U.S. Department of Labor Deputy Secretary Christopher Lu, there are roughly 400,000 veterans who live in South Carolina.

“Those veterans, by and large, are doing pretty well,” Lu said Tuesday. “The unemployment rate for veterans is only 3.5%, that compares to 6.4% unemployment rate for non-veterans. But what we also need to recognize is those numbers alone don’t tell you the full story. The numbers mask multifaceted challenges that are faced by veterans who are not doing so well and desperately seeking assistance.”

The network allows veterans and their families to view an online database to connect with a variety of different services.

“When somebody is seeking assistance, they won’t have to go to a gazillion places,” said Kim Elle, President & CEO, Aiken and Augusta Warrior Project. “They get to go almost one stop shop. We’re able to reach out and provide that holistic support for all the things they need.”

Pamela Crowell, Associate Director of the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center, said they serve 67,000 veterans in the area. It’s the fifth fastest growing medical centers in the U.S.

“This really helps us with the infrastructure to connect veterans to the community resources,” Crowell said.

“This is a special community because of its sense of energy, it’s sense of purpose,” said Col. Jim McDonough, Managing Director for the Institute for Veterans and Military Families.

McDonough added the faith based partners in Charleston is also what drew them to forming the network in the area.

“We value the role the faith-based community plays in helping connect its flock, if you will, to the various services in the community,” McDonough said. “So we kind of built strength around that.”

“Some of the people are broken spiritually,” said J. Denise Cromwell, Project Manager at Project Street Outreach. “I’m not a minister, but I do try to minister to them. We are the Holy City, so what better place or thing to do than to connect spiritually with our veterans.”

Leaders believe community organizations working together will give veterans and their families the chance to live a life without feeling overwhelmed.

“As a veteran myself we often feel overwhelmed and intimidated by the resources available,” Elle said. “When you have great organizations coming together like this you just have to go to SCServes and they’re going to make sure I’m connected to all of the resources I need for my life.”

With the launch of SCServes-Lowcountry, South Carolina joins a portfolio of national partners that have connected over 3,722 veterans, service members, and military families to over 6,300 types of comprehensive services in less than two years.

Speakers at the launch ceremony also included Senior Director of Military Programs at Walmart Brigadier General Gary Profit.

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