To better address first-response to veteran homelessness and veterans in-need and in-crisis, Sheriff Mark Curran partnered with the Lake County Veteran’s Assistance Commission, the Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center, PADS Lake County, Midwest Veteran’s Closet, and Medal of Honor Recipient Allen J. Lynch to ensure nobody is left behind.
Earlier this year, Sheriff Curran invited newly appointed Lake County Veteran’s Assistance Commission Director, Andrew Tangen, to the Sheriff’s Office for an introduction and meeting. The leaders of both organizations had much in common to include law degrees; and as leaders of mission-focused, service-organizations -- they discussed new ideas to address issues which impact Lake County.
One of the challenges for the Lake County Veteran’s Assistance Commission is providing crisis services after their normal-operating hours. While Lake County is fortunate to have the VA as a resource, many veterans and some first-responders don’t know how to access services for those in need, after hours.
To better ensure crisis services are available to those in need, a plan was created for Lake County Sheriff’s Office employees. Select employees received awareness training on the issues of veteran homelessness and veterans “in crisis;” as well as transport, shelter, and referral options for immediate assistance. Training was provided by VA staff, VAC Director Andrew Tangen, and Mr. Joel Williams from PADS Lake County.
A majority of those who received the initial training served in the military. They returned to their respective Sheriff’s Office Divisions to train remaining Sheriff’s Office personnel. Thus, Sheriff Curran’s Deputies and other employees will become Veteran Ambassadors for the VAC and VA.
Included in the plan is a ‘Police Referral Card’ which includes emergency contact numbers for the VA along with other resources. A shelter plan was also implemented.
VAC Director Andrew Tangen remarked, “As Lake County Sheriff’s personnel are deployed throughout the County 24/7, they are ideal for engaging in conversation, assessment, and transport.”
“Sheriff’s personnel with a yellow ribbon and blue shield affixed to their squad have the training and confidence to positively impact this issue and help those in need,” stated Sheriff Mark Curran.
In addition, Medal of Honor Recipient Lynch helped to create an emergency fund, to be accessed by Sheriff’s personnel should any of the above options fail. “It has been my experience that even the best plans can fail. With all of us working together, this team will not,” stated Lynch.
The policy and training for the Lake County Sheriff’s Veteran’s Ambassador Program went into effect in early October, the team will be fully operational prior to Veterans Day.