PITTSBURGH, Pa., March 5, 2020 — PAServes - Greater Pittsburgh, the local group created more than four years ago to connect returning veterans and their families with essential services that support their reintegration to civilian life, is outperforming its affiliate organizations across the United States, according to latest national data.
The Pittsburgh-based nonprofit, launched as part of the national AmericaServes network in 2015 with a grant from The Heinz Endowments, has become the most successful in the network in several key metrics, including connecting and fulfilling 85 percent of requests for help from current and former servicemen, servicewomen, and their families. This compares with an average successful connection rate of 74 percent among AmericaServes’ 17 member organizations across the country, according to statistics compiled by Syracuse University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) which manages the national network.
PAServes covers a population of more than 113,000 veterans, as well as currently serving military members and their families, in Allegheny, Butler, and Westmoreland counties. The organization provides connections to a comprehensive range of resources and support groups, including education, health care, employment, housing, human services, legal, social activities, mentoring, sports and fitness, and community engagement.
PAServes, coordinated by a team at the community health and wellness provider Pittsburgh Mercy, has handled more than 13,000 requests for assistance over the past four years from just over 5,000 individuals, connecting them with 62 support organizations. The volume of requests for services increased 79 percent from 2018 to 2019.
Through close collaboration and the use of a shared technology platform, PAServes and its service provider partners – including the Allegheny County Department of Human Services and the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System – have reduced the average time to connect individual service requests with appropriate resources to five days, compared with a national average across all AmericaServes communities of seven days. PAServes is also a leader in successful completion of service requests that require involvement with multiple organizations, averaging 13 days, compared to the national AmericaServes average of 15 days.
“Connecting returning servicemen, servicewomen, and their families to the critical support they need to successfully transition to civilian life is central to the Endowments’ work, and we are delighted with the outstanding success that PAServes has achieved in a relatively short time,” said Grant Oliphant, President of The Heinz Endowments. “These statistics represent individuals who enrich our community, and PAServes is demonstrating a model that would benefit communities across the country.”
AmericaServes is the nation’s first coordinated system of public, private and nonprofit organizations working together to serve veterans, transitioning service-members, and their families. PAServes was launched in Pittsburgh as part of the AmericaServes network in the fall of 2015 with $300,000 in support from the Endowments.
PAServes was the third member organization of the AmericaServes network, preceded by New York and North Carolina. Now with 17 member communities across the United States, AmericaServes programs require all partner organizations to embrace transparency, a dedication to coordination, and clear communication.
Active duty forces, National Guard, and Reserve service members, as well as veterans and their families who reside in the Greater Pittsburgh area are eligible for support from the PAServes network.
PAServes was formed in response to data from a 2013 IVMF survey of 8,500 service members, veterans, and their families, who ranked the navigation of benefits and services as their top challenge in transitioning from military to civilian life (60 percent), with finding a job (55 percent) coming in as their second most pressing need. In addition to direct support services, PAServes also coordinates applications for U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs benefits.
“With nearly 5,000 new military and military-affiliated individuals moving into southwestern Pennsylvania each year, there is an ever-increasing need for a system that is easy to access and navigate, and helps connect to the services that ease the transition into civilian life,” said Megan Andros, the Endowments’ Senior Program Officer for Veterans.
“PAServes, the service organizations with whom they work, and coordination partner Pittsburgh Mercy are undertaking groundbreaking work in streamlining the process, and that means the incredible job skills, leadership experience, and dedication to service our veterans bring to our region can be more fully realized.”
PAServes Program Administrator Matthew Gryskewicz said the organization has seen significant growth since its launch, which can be attributed to two major pillars that guide its work. “The first is a commitment to knowledge and understanding of our community’s programmatic supports, which allows us to connect veterans and their family members to the right place, at the right time, eliminating the guesswork,” he said.
“Secondly, PAServes is deeply committed to our community partners and providers. The successes, coordination, and spirit of collaboration of our partner providers allow our veterans and family members the opportunity to grow and prosper, wherever they are in their lives.”
The Heinz Endowments
Strategic Communications Officer