Feeling connected and supported is the basic building block of what makes a strong and healthy community.
In an effort to make people feel that connection, the South Sound Military & Communities Partnership is joining forces with the Timberland Regional Library to launch a pilot program to provide people with free resource kits at the Lakewood and Lacey branches.
The kits contain important phone numbers and websites for things like transportation, housing, and behavioral healthcare help. The kit also contains water, food, phone cards, a travel blanket, and items to help de-stress.
The libraries were chosen due to the close proximity to Joint Base Lewis-McChord. There are more than 86,000 veterans in Pierce County, and 29,000 in Thurston County, plus their dependents. More than 70 percent of Joint Base Lewis-McChord personnel live in the cities and communities surrounding the base.
The kits are available to military, veterans, and civilians.
“According to the state Health Care Authority, only 20 percent of clinical care that is available in the state addresses the needs of community members,” a press release explaining the new program states. “That leaves the majority of the population without a connection to the assistance they need. The hope is by making it easier for people to reach services through a resource kit, the burden would lessen on first responders, clinicians, the public health system and substance abuse communities.”
A USA Mental Health First Aid staff member will assist in handing out the resource kits, and will provide additional support to people.
Data will be collected throughout the pilot program to determine how many kits are given, and the type of referrals and connections the kits helped generate. If it is successful, the program may continue or expand.