CLEVELAND - On Veterans Day, the United Way of Greater Cleveland and Cuyahoga County announced a new service for veterans.
The United Way rolled out a veterans resource line with 2-1-1. It provides free and confidential information and referral to community, health and social services to veterans. It is available 24 hours a day, every day.
"We honor their dedication to service. We are grateful to their courage," said Bill Kitson, president and CEO of the United Way of Greater Cleveland. "This help line is a way of ensuring we are leaving no one behind. We are dedicated to helping veterans and because firsthand knowledge of the rigors of military and military life sometimes eases the conversation, we've hired veterans to answer the 211 veterans line."
The United Way expects to answer 10,000 calls in the first year in Cuyahoga County.
County Executive Ed FitzGerald was at the Monday's announcement at the United Way's Cleveland office.
"We're happy to be here on behalf of Cuyahoga County government to support this important effort," FitzGerald said.
FitzGerald said about $55,000 was contributed to the Veterans Service Fund to help make this program possible.
"We know when people give military service to their country, that it also takes emotional and physical toll on those individuals and their families after they finally return home. That's why we think it's so important to have locally-based services," FitzGerald said.
The 2-1-1 line can help veterans, active duty military, reservists, National Guardsmen, and their families with issues ranging from employment services, food, housing, utility assistance, counseling, family support, legal services, tax preparations and volunteer opportunities.
"Our military men and women are courageous individuals. They have served their country, they have stood their ground to preserve freedom, whether it's overseas or here at home," FitzGerald said. "And now it's our turn, to make them feel supported and make them feel safe and this is our opportunity to serve individuals who have been serving us so honorably for so long."
Alan Henry is a veteran who was named volunteer veteran of the year at Cuyahoga Community College.
"Hopefully, with United Way's new 211 referral service, active duty reservists and National Guard and veterans, like myself, will be able to self-help with life issues when they arise," Henry said.
More information can be found at 211oh.org .