A team of six military outreach specialists are blanketing the communities of North Dakota in search of veterans from all services.
Trained to aid veterans in finding programs and incentives available to them, the Outreach Team for North Dakota Veterans is a service that follows up with veterans in the state.
The team provides care by working in conjunction with local veteran organizations, including county Veteran Service officers, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and Vet Centers.
The Military Outreach program was initiated to support the North Dakota National Guard's Reintegration Program, which is designed to support N.D. Guardsmen and their families throughout active-duty mobilizations.
The Outreach team finds clients through referrals made by the different veterans' organizations, as well as Job Service North Dakota, local Vet Centers and social services' organizations. They also contact veterans by phone and by dropping off flyers and business cards with local businesses. Word of mouth and reaching out to the communities helps reveal the benefits that the Military Outreach team can provide.
Since its organization one year ago, the outreach team has established a number of long-term goals, including initiating contact with every N.D. National Guard veteran who has served in the global war on terrorism, by telephone or letter. So far, they have reached 659 clients, whom they have helped with various resources, including veterans of Korea, Vietnam and World War II.
In addition, they have made contact with 9,417 additional veterans, totaling 10,076 of North Dakota's 57,703 registered veterans.
Another goal is to reach veterans who live in the rural communities who do not always have access to information about veterans' programs and incentives.
"Our program is unique in that we are mobile," said John Czapiewski, a military outreach specialist for the Minot and Williston areas. "We spend a lot of time on the road reaching out to North Dakota's veterans, bringing our awareness to the rural communities. Our priorities are to the service member, the veteran and their families."
Kelli Weiand, a military outreach specialist for the Minot and Harvey areas, said the work is very rewarding."These men and women put their lives on the line to defend the freedoms we enjoy, and this is just one way to say thank you," she said.
Czapiewski and Weiand are based at the Armed Forces Reserve Center in Minot.