Veterans, service members (active duty, Guard and reserve) and their families now have a new place to access resources, support and assistance in the West Valley.
In partnership with the Arizona Coalition for Military Families, Arizona Department of Veterans’ Services, Northern Arizona University, Maricopa Community Colleges Foundation, and Rio Salado Community College, the city of Surprise offers the West Valley Military and Veteran Success Center a new home within the Surprise Resource Center at the AZ TechCelerator Campus, at 12425 W. Bell Road, Suite 124.
The center includes a variety of military and veteran support services and resources, made possible by the generous support of partner organizations and all West Valley cities.
Support services at the Surprise Resource Center will be rolled out in phases.
The first phase of services are available now and include a part-time Be Connected navigator as well as a full-time AmeriCorps member provided by ACMF and NAU. Both services aim to provide greater opportunities to access the benefits and services crucial to the well-being of current and former military personnel and their families.
“This collaboration draws in such a wide variety of partners that are all unified under one goal – providing support and assistance to Arizona’s service members, veterans and their families,” says former U.S. Marine and Director of ACMF, Thomas Winkel. “We are so appreciative of the willingness of these partners to expand access to the vast ecosystem of support that exists across Arizona for military and veteran families – including the Be Connected program, our nationally recognized public/private partnership. This new center further expands our collective reach.”
The city of Surprise, a longtime partner to the ACMF, offered this space as a way to demonstrate their continued commitment to the veteran community.
“Honoring and supporting the veteran community has always been a priority for Surprise,” said Surprise Mayor Skip Hall. “We are thankful that we have community partners who feel the same way and have come together to help our Surprise Resource Center offer expanded resources and one-on-one guidance to connect our brave heroes to programs and services that will help them thrive well into the future.”
The AmeriCorps staff member, who holds a dedicated office in Surprise Resource Center, is a part of the statewide NAU initiative that works to unite people and help them tackle challenges through connection to resources.
“This partnership offers an exciting opportunity to expand services in the West Valley and will serve as a model for other community partnerships across the state,” says Andrew Facemire, AmeriCorps Program Coordinator, Center for Service and Volunteerism. “We’re excited to be a part of this collaboration.”
Russ Dickerson, NAU’s Assistant Director for the AmeriCorps Program, emphasizes the importance of the center’s focus on service to those who have served. “We here at the Center for Service and Volunteerism are very excited about our part of the project with the West Valley Military and Veteran Success Center. It’s an important project and a great expression of National Service.”
In addition to the full-time AmeriCorps staff member, the center will house a Be Connected Navigator. The navigator will work to provide connections to veteran supportive resources that exist across Arizona and help to troubleshoot barriers to accessing those resources.
The second phase of this initiative will include the deployment of an Arizona Department of Veterans’ Services Veteran Benefits Counselor through a pilot program, which will establish a satellite office and create access for service members residing in the West Valley.
VBCs are accredited by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and advocate for Arizona’s service members, veterans and their families with receiving federal and state veteran benefits. The services provided by the VBC will be available three days a week beginning this fall at a date to be announced.
“We always aim to eliminate barriers to accessing benefits for Arizona’s veteran community,” says Retired Air Force Colonel Wanda Wright, Arizona Department of Veterans’ Services Director. “We don’t want anyone to be more than 50 miles away from a VBC. This collaboration helps us put VBCs closer to the people who need them.”
This new location in Surprise not only allows a space for military and veteran specific services, but also full wrap-around services at the same spot since the center is located within the Surprise Resource Center, which offers general social service support.
“Through the support of Luke Air Force Base, we have served active military members and their families since 1979,” said Greg Pereira, Rio Salado Vice President of Student Affairs. “This is a wonderful partnership that has led to the need for expanding services off the base, as obtaining base access can be a barrier for some veterans. We now have an additional home and an army of community partners to help us continue the mission and legacy of working with West Valley veteran populations in a location that provides easier access. We are delighted to support West Valley Military and Veteran Success Center and provide educational support services for our military communities at this new location and at Luke Air Force Base.”
Rio Salado thanks the following agencies and organizations who donated to ensure the successful launch of The West Valley Veteran Success Center at Luke Air Force Base and who continue in their support of the mission of the West Valley Military and Veteran Success Center.
Donor agencies are:
Archimedes Hill Investments
AZ Pro Graphics
City of Avondale
City of Buckeye
City of El Mirage
Service members, veterans and their families anywhere in Arizona can also access statewide resources and services — at no cost — by calling the Be Connected Support Line at 866-4AZ-VETS (866-429-8387) and visiting www.BeConnectedAZ.org.