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Would you take a call from a post-9/11 veteran?

Jeanette Steele | San Diego Union Tribune

New pilot project tries to link volunteers with expertise to vets who need advice

A new pilot program debuting in San Diego on Thursday will try to link volunteers with recent military veterans who need assistance in the form of advice or expertise.

The program, called Vets’ Community Connections, is being unveiled by a coalition of government and private-sector groups, including San Diego County, 2-1-1 San Diego, San Diego Veterans Coalition and the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce.

The idea is that Americans want to help post-9/11 veterans but don’t have an easy avenue.

Under this initiative, San Diegans can volunteer to add their names to a contacts list, which will be vetted by the nonprofit information service 2-1-1 San Diego.

“The main focus of VCC is to connect veterans with people in the community who can provide direction and input through volunteering or donating their time,” said 2-1-1 San Diego spokeswoman Meg Storer.

If you are an auto mechanic, have budget management expertise or can offer advice on preparing for a career, these are the skills sought, among many others, according to organizers. The pivotal question for volunteers, they said: Would you be willing to take a call from a recent veteran from time to time?

San Diego County is one of three regions chosen for this pilot project, which is sponsored nationally by the National Association of Counties and the nonprofit Wounded Warrior Project.

The other areas are South Bend, Ind., and Phoenix.

Vets’ Community Connections is an idea launched nationally by former senior Pentagon spokesman Doug Wilson and Kari McDonough, an organizational management specialist formerly with Accenture. Both founders are based in Washington, D.C.

The San Diego effort has depended on donations of time and talent from the community, Storer said. SalesForce Foundation donated data base technology.

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