Who We Are

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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 and the larger community.

The program began in 2010 with a grant from the Department of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services (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 served by the VA. Now the organization benefits from a collaborative relationship with the VA. Its programs both align to government agencies, connects individuals to the VA, VAC or DOD when appropriate, and also offers alternatives for those who are not comfortable reaching out to the government agencies or who are ineligible for certain opportunities.

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. In addition, 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, presents on military culture, and hosts an annual run 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”.

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 2017, the organization connected with individuals 18,560 times through events, training presentations, on-air programming or at the drop-in center. It has facilitated training for 982 individuals, had over 3,200 calls or drop-ins at the DryHootch Center (not unique), and handled 940 issues. The organization uses Unite Us software to track clients and needs.

The organization does not accept any government funding because government regulations are too inflexible and restrictive to be innovative. It also notes government funding is inconsistent, subject to political agendas, and produces an enormous amount of distracting red tape.

We offer FREE support services to Veterans, active duty service members, Guardsmen, Reservists and their familiy members in a confidential setting.

  • Any American Veteran with any type of discharge.
  • Family members/support persons of Veterans or Service Members.
  • Families of the fallen.

Veterans, Service Members and their families are invited to find support for:

  • Homelessness
  • 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

Testimonials to Our Vision

October through January 2018
My husband just loved you guys and your foundation.  He always wanted to do whatever he could to support you until his health failed him. Please keep up the good work.
We are honored to have LCVFSF as our Illinois Joing Forces Community Partner model.  Your hard work and high standards are exactly the example we expect to replicate throughout the state.  Thanks for being their for our Service Members and for leading us.
Thanks so much for checking up on me after the flooding and since I moved away.  I really miss you guys, but I know you're still there for anything I ever need.  Thanks so much.
It's hard to face the first holidays without Richard, but there are many things to do for friends and family.  Thank you for all you do and here is a small gift for some extra treats.  
I have been in many Ruck Marches in Chicago and all over the local area, and I have to tell you that this one was the best I have ever seen.  The organization, the care of the Marchers, the monitoring of everyone during the march, water, food, first aid was unbelievable.  I have never seen one this well done.  I can't believe this was your first!
We are honored to be a sponsor of the Ruck March and your foundation's effort to reduce Veteran Suicide.  March On!
Thanks for a wonderful and inspirational march on Saturday. You all should feel very good about the turn out! I was happy to walk and proud of my colleagues for their participation and happy to support you and your incredible organization. Please let me know if there is anything I can do to support next year’s effort! All the best
The Honorable, Christopher Stride
When I was discharged from the Marine Corp last year, I was told I had a hip and knee injury as a result of my service, but was awarded no disability status or percentage.  I didn't want to bother anyone, but at the encouragement of a Peer Specialist at Lake County Veterans and Family Services Foundation, I was guided to the Veterans Assistance Commission because of my unusal claim circumstances.  That was in April.  In September, I was awarded a 30% rating that I never thought I would get....all because LCVFSF was there to encourage and guide me.  Thank You!
J.N., U.S.M.C.
You guys did a great job on the WTTW Vietnam Panel discussion.  It was an incredible exoperience for me.  After hearing the questions and answers the panel provided, I really realized how little the American public knows about this time in our country's history.  Now I am going to study it!
Paris S., WTTW
We just want to help you guys anyway we can not only for the Ruck March, but every day.  This place (DryHootch) is amazing!
T.F., U.S.M.C.
Bob Gorman made my husband feel so proud to be a Vietnam Veteran.  He secured my husband's 100% disability for his exposure to Agent Orange.  Although my husband died only a few months after the benefits started, Bob also made sure that I will continue to receive the benefits for life.  We can honestly say that after 47 years, my husband truly felt proud of his service to his country and the ultimate sacrifice he made for us.  Thank you.
M.A., U.S.A.
I never would have believed it!  After 25 years in the Marine Corps, and never having asked the V.A. for anything, Mike Hughes convinced me and my wife to apply for benefits, and I got them.  Less than six months.  
D.D., U.S.M.C.
Nobody has been able to help me with our son with all the trouble he has had in life until I gave Lake County Veterans and Family Services a try.  They have been so helpful, patient, and objective.  We realize there are no easy or magical answers, but we now feel like we have a partner in dealing with our son's problems.  Thank you for being there for us.
W.R, U.S.A.F.
We are truly honored to partner with you and not only appreciate your diligent efforts to support the Veteran community at large.  Thank you for all you do!
K.M.Cruz, U.S.A.
Tawani Foundation
Thank you for all your hard work and effort at our American Legion carnival and helping marshal the parade.  Your efforts were greatly appreciated by all of us who were involved with you.
E.G., U.S.N.
Thanks to Paul Baffico who brought the Service Platoon group of Veterans to the Antique Auto Show. They were an enormous help during the show.
Just got to say that this guy Bob Gorman made all the difference in the world. I owe him. Thanks so much.
J. M.
The Service Platoon team from the Lake County Veterans and Family Services Foundation were a huge help. I appreciated their willingness and positive attitude. I hope we can work with you in 2018!
MD, Lake Bluff
Dear Friends at the Drop-in Center,

Enclosed is a memory folder for my husband. Thanks to you, we received the form we needed to have “Taps” played and a flag presented at graveside.
Thank you for being part of his last year of life. He loved talking about his Army days. He was drafted, but was proud to serve.
Several times we’d be at a restaurant and he’d see a service member eating his or her meal. He’d tell the waitress to bring him the bill.
We weren’t wealthy. It just made him feel good.
Mrs. P.
Thank you for helping my nephew look for a job. He has a lot of talent and just needs the right place to land. With your help, he’s got a much better opportunity to find it.
Uncle E.

Thank you for your presentation…no one in the room will ever forget what you shared. Some of the attendees would like to help in any way they can. I gave them your contact information.” C.M. Lake Villa Chamber
“Thank you for coming onto my radio show. I just wish that we had more time to share your many great stories. Please consider coming back.”    Bob Monahan, Radio Show Host
“We appreciate the partnership between Lake County Honor Flight and your foundation in undertaking the Earth Day Garage Sale. We raised funds for two good causes and had great fun doing it. Thank you!    L.R. Honor Flight board member
“All of the classes you spoke to at Millburn School loved what you said about the military, about service and about never forgetting those who gave their lives for our country.”   Letters from Millburn Middle School
“Thank you for listening to my story and checking on my benefits. You made my day!”    Air Force Veteran
“You took the time to really listen to my situation. That helped me face the challenges before me. Thanks.”   Marine Veteran
"The social media presence has greatly improved as of recently; I do not know why, but keep it up!" RH

"I just want to thank you for reaching out, I really needed this today." PW

"Hey it's [DL] I stopped in today to let you guys know how I am doing, and to say thank you for this service. My daughter [S] is doing 100% better and I could not've done it without the help of L.C.V.F.S. Thank you." V/R DL


The CreatiVET session on Monday night was really cool. My son and I had a great time meeting others and getting the chance to create together. Kate and Ashley were great. Thanks for starting this program.
In-person comment
Following are the comments of a highly decorated Vietnam combat infantryman who sought help from LCVFSF. “The experience of working with Bob Gorman on my Veterans Administration enrollment and subsequent needs far exceeded any of my expectations. Thank you for truly taking care of me. Thank you!”
Jack M.
I just have to tell you how much I enjoy reading Xena’s POV every month. It is the first thing I open to when I get the Pathfinder. She is just so cute and so smart, she brightens up my day. Great feature. Please have her keep it up.
Maryanne G.
We, the members of the College of Lake County Veteran Student Club, would like to thank you for supporting us by making us an official Cup-A-Joe location for the Veteran Students of CLC. We are also grateful for you providing the coffee machine and snacks for our weekly meetings. We are very excited to be associated with the Lake County Veterans and Family Services Foundation and we look forward to working with all of you.
Thanks again! CLC Vet Club


11-16-16  A big thank you to a great friend and fellow Veteran, Charles von Schletz and the Lake County Veterans and Family Servioces Foundation for the much needed support and care packages made with love and compassion especially after the recent events.  On behalf of the 822nd MP Battalion detachment currently overseas, we would like to thank you and everyone who participated in putting these together!   Happy Holidays, Marines!



Thank you for taking your valuable and visiting the Millburn 8th grade students and the willingness to share with them your life experiences.
They are better for it and so am I.  God bless, Dave

October 14, 2016    Lake County Veterans and Family Services have done a tremendous job helping our family with services and organizational help to relieve stress, both financial and emotional. They are friendly, non judgmental and eager to help get things done for families in need. They are compassionate, understanding, and respectful of our concerns and privacy.

Dr. Mary Roberson is extremely dedicated to giving veterans and families the help they need for a better quality of life. I am very happy with the services of Dr. Mary and the staff of the Lake County Veteran's and Family Services office.
--Mark and Jill F.


August 30, 2016   Thank you all for providing equine opportunity for Veterans, Active Duty and Active Duty Dependents! They were all very moved by the experience with Helena and the horses. The group that attended yesterday included 5 Veterans 1 Active Duty Member and 1 spouse. Four are interested in applying for the scholarship.


I want to thank you both for concern and time spent on a successful effort.  Give yourself five  ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️   Paul A.     July 2016


Equine Therapy Letter June 2016: Hi Helena! Thank you again for the AMAZING training you offered yesterday. I was deeply moved by the experience and it just confirmed for me (even more) how much I would love for the Vets and Active Duty Members to have this experience.


iRest has helped me get to sleep earlier and more easily; and get back to sleep when I've awakened during the night. Although I love my job working with special needs kids, it is often a source of significant stress - especially at the end of the year. I used to worry about how much I had to do, and not getting things done in a timely manner. The strategies you teach, specifically breathing and visualization techniques help me complete projects, let go of the things I could not complete and go back to them later. Thank you!"  --Maria, Mother of two Iraq & Afghanistan War Veterans


June 2016 “I’m doin’ great, thanks to you guys!  I’m working stuff out and know you will always be there to help me if I need it.  THANKS A LOT!”  Joel R.  


June 2016---I was absolutely blown away by the honesty and sincerity of Charlie’s talk about Memorial Day and what it means to him.  I had never considered how serious a day of remembrance it is.  It’s a “wake” not a party.  He’s right!      --Greg M. 


Dear LCVFSF:  Just want to say “Thanks!” to all of you for having Mike at our Zion Cup-A-Joe and for all you do for us at the meeting.  He is a real pleasure to be around and makes our get-togethers always upbeat.  Good Stuff!   ---Don W.


May 2016   ----I can't thank you enough for all that you have done for me and my daughter.  This is the best treatment I could possibly get anywhere...any time!       ---Morrie D.                           ______________________                                                                                                 

January 2016----Thank you for serving, but more importantly, thank you for all your sacrifices.  You are appreciated and deserve lots of treats.   ---Maria K


Dear Fellow Vets,  I appreciate the help Carl Marro and Bob Gorman extended to me in obtaining my Cold War Service Medal. ---Kenneth S


“Good for you guys!  You are doing some really impressive work!  And thanks to Ashley for all the important information she gave me"      ---Brandon B.


Thank you so much for all of your help with my husband.  Without the help of the Foundation, I don’t know how we could have possibly made the change and the transition.  We will, of course, keep you in mind in Kentucky should we need your help. ---Brooke O.


Thank You for starting this organization for our fellow vets. Many are reluctant to go directly to the VA for help or even a national service organization. Your organization provides an alternative and a bridge.

When first arriving in Florida I was amazed at how many vets there were. I eat at the country clubs a lot and have had many conversations with fellow vets and their spouses. It is AMAZING how many have not filed for benefits they deserve. Several of their wives have commented to me when their husbands go for a bathroom break that the husband is having a terrible time dealing with their WW2, Korea and Vietnam service and the wife does not know what to do.

I try to steer the conversation subtly towards the mental health issues that vets have when they return and often hear the reply, "the VA is all screwed up" and don't want to get involved. My opinion is it is just one of the many excuses we can make up when we are in denial of needing help. It is frustrating and heartbreaking to see them going through this, and especially on the wife's part. I do what I can. A few have responded positively when I suggested how to file for a claim, etc.  I wish I were close enough to you guys to volunteer! Anyway, we do what we can to help our brothers in arms... Who could better understand them... Sorry I have rambled on. Thanks again... Semper Gumby.   John B., USMC, Vietnam 1970