By OSD Communications Specialist Bailey Patton Brackin

At OSD, we are dedicated to creating a Veteran support ecosystem. Each day we provide relevant, relatable and sustainable impact to the military community through social, professional, and service-oriented programs. But we can’t do it alone. It is through the power of partnership that we are able to impact the military community on such a broad scale. One of those valuable partners is Easterseals of Central Texas.

Easterseals of Central Texas is working to improve the mental health of veterans and their family members through a collaborative effort in Central Texas (which includes Bastrop, Hays, Williamson, and Travis counties). The goal of their Veteran Service work is to provide mental health care and other supportive services – including education resources, peer support, and recreational wellness –  to active duty service members, veterans, and veteran’s families. By partnering with expert veteran service organizations (including OSD, Samaritan Center, Capital Idea, and Code VI) they aim to meet the unique and holistic needs of service members, veterans, and their family members. Eastereals recognizes that each individual has different needs and this collaborative approach ensures that Veterans, active duty members, and their families have access to a diverse set of resources all located in the community where they reside.

Christopher Araujo, Easterseals Director of Veterans and Community Services explained, “I’m very proud of the collaboration that we have been able to create in the Austin area, and am honored to lead the effort to help our service members, veterans, and their families. As the old adage goes, there is power in numbers. To be able to put together a collaborative of community partners with different areas of expertise all working toward the same goal is an amazing thing to see. I look forward to a bright future for the collaborative, and to see it grow and help even more of our communities heroes.”

In addition to supporting their partner’s programming, Easterseals also hosts regular “veteran cafes”, which are opportunities for veterans and their families to learn more about Easterseals resources and connect with fellow veterans. Easterseals staff also organize “kid’s corners” where kids, whose parent or parents are active duty service members or veterans, can participate in crafting and games with other kids who share a similar experience.

Sarah Parnell, Easterseals Veteran Services Program Clinician, loves that they are able to serve the whole family unit through Easterseals programming. She explained, “One of the things that is exciting about this program is the opportunity to assist different part of the family – spouses, kids, and parents.  I’m a big believer in systems theory and that when one part of the system changes, the rest of it has to as well, for good or for bad. That is why we believe support for the whole family is so important.”

Believing no one should be left behind, Easterseals is always looking to identify service gaps. If there is an active duty member, veteran, or family members who in need, Easterseals of Central Texas wants to ensure they have access to the best resource possible. They envision building an even larger coalition of organizations in Central Texas devoted to ensuring Veterans can live their best lives after serving our country and OSD is proud to be a part of that work!

OSD Chief Community Officer Scott Morrison said, “We are honored to partner with Easterseals to serve Veterans and their families in Central Texas. Easterseals shares our vision of creating a supportive environment for our military members both during and after their service. Together, we are able to reach an even greater portion of the military community here in Texas.”