The purpose of the Lake County Veterans and Family Services Foundation (LCVFSF) is to connect Veterans and their families with each other and with the benefits and resources they earned and deserve, regardless of discharge status free and confidentially. It serves individuals located in Lake, McHenry and Southern Kenosha counties with a one-stop approach facilitated by certified Veteran Peer Specialists. In addition to navigational assistance, with the help of an extensive partner network, LCVFSF provides programming to both Veterans, their family members and the larger community.
LCVFSF acts as a one-stop service hub run by combat-experienced Veteran Peer Specialists. It utilizes a multidimensional care model to deliver programs or provide referrals that address various topics/needs including depression and family deployment issues, PTSD, homelessness, financial issues, substance abuse, legal challenges, education, and employment. Alternative programs offered are equine therapy, fishing club, painting, weekly coffee klatches in five locations, professional sports outings, service platoon volunteer opportunities, and many more. Additionally, the organization provides emergency grants to service members (less than $750 and not paid directly to Service Member), sends Christmas packages to deployed military members, facilitates a speaker series, holds presentations on military culture, and hosts an annual Ruck March for suicide awareness. Finally, it operates a Veteran Community Partner Network that meets bi-monthly to discuss ways the community can better address service gaps for veterans in the region and offers a DryHootch Drop-In Center for veterans.
Note: “Hootch” is a military term for a hut or safe place to sleep during combat. The term “dry” denotes the organization’s mission to provide a social gathering place for Veterans that is free of alcohol. As such, the concept behind “Dryhootch” was a desire to establish a café-like environment dedicated to “helping Veterans who survived the war, survive the peace”.
The program began in 2010 with a grant from the Department of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), a sub-set of the Department of Health and Human Services. Its initial goal was to fill local gaps in VA, VAC and DOD services, screen individuals for eligibility for services, support family members, and connect with Veterans not receiving services from the VA. After a great deal of collaborative work, LCVFSF and the James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center and the Lake County Veterans Assistance Commission act together in supporting the needs of the Veteran population. The Foundation's programs align to all government agencies, connects individuals to the VA, VAC or DOD when appropriate, and offers alternatives for those who are not comfortable reaching out to the government agencies or who are ineligible for certain benefits or resources.
Because of its role in the community, the organization is part of the My VA Community Model and is a recognized Community Partner with Illinois Joining Forces, the statewide, public-private network of veteran and military serving organizations. This means it has been designated to provide community-based referrals and local programming to Service Members and their families in the region that compliment VA and DOD services.
In 2018, LCVFSF connected with individuals 21,386 times through events, training presentations, on-air programming or at the drop-in center. It facilitated training for over 1000 individuals, had over 6,295 calls or drop-ins at the DryHootch Center (not unique), and handled 970 issues. The organization uses Unite Us software to track clients and needs.
The Lake County Veterans and Family Services Foundation is a 501c3 non-profit charity and, therefore, does not accept any government funding. Moreover, such funding is extremely restrictive and inflexible, limiting our opportunities to be innovative for those in need of services. Our uniqueness is the major feature of our differentiation, and it appeals to our target Veteran or Service Member.
We offer FREE support services to Veterans, active duty service members, Guardsmen, Reservists and their familiy members in a confidential setting.
Veterans, Service Members and their families are invited to find support for:
- Linkage to benefits
- Sexual trauma
- Post traumatic stress
- Traumatic brain injury
- Grief and loss of those who didn't make it home
- Deployment, re-deployment, discharge and re-integration adjustment issues
- Depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, problems with substance abuse