Q&A With Will Beiersdorf (right), MPA, Executive Director of the Road Home Program: The Center for Veterans and Their Families at Rush
Military personnel face serious difficulties when returning to civilian life. Rush has partnered with the veteran community to find a solution. The Road Home Program: The National Center of Excellence for Veterans and Their Families at Rush opened in March 2014, treating veterans for post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, military sexual trauma and other physical and psychological needs. Road Home is the beneficiary for the Rush Associates Board 2015 Casino Night on June 12. Will Beiersdorf, executive director of Road Home, as well as a Naval Reserve and Illinois Army National Guard veteran, explains Road Home’s special attributes.
How many veterans do you serve now?
We’ve seen 200 veterans and their family members in less than a year. That is well beyond what we expected. A huge contributor to that is a lot of referrals are coming from veterans themselves. Earning that trust within the veteran community is difficult, so to see their willingness to be associated with us in such a personal way shows we’re making an immediate impact.
What makes Road Home different from other veteran services?
The Road Home Program is a great complement to the range of medical, psychiatric and outreach services already available to veterans by local Veterans Affairs medical centers and other peer organizations. We take that a step further to include services for military families as well, recognizing family from an open and expansive perspective. We will see children and parents of veterans along with boyfriends, girlfriends, husbands and wives; even a neighbor could be part of a veteran’s family. Regardless of the uniform a veteran has worn, or the length or type of service they have provided, or even their discharge status, Road Home will try to help.
How can philanthropic support make a difference?
We’ve built a program that can adapt and evolve to the growing array of challenges veterans and families face. Philanthropy is critical to maintaining that momentum. It’s critical to our ability to treat even more veterans and their loved ones; to expand the depth and range of services we offer; to build on the many strong regional partnerships we have with Veterans Affairs institutions; and to become part of a network of National Centers of Excellence for treating the invisible wounds of war.