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Need access to veterans services? Hotline will answer questions

— A defense contractor has partnered with the United Way of the Greater Dayton Area to call on area business and others to contribute money to launch a Miami Valley veterans’ hotline by Veterans Day next November.

SRC, which has a Fairborn office with work geared toward Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, has contributed $120,000, with a goal to get other companies and donors to give a matching amount for a total of $240,000 by June 30, said Lisa Mondello, a company spokeswoman.

“We’re pretty confident we can get there,” she said. “We know there’s a lot of companies in the area that support veterans and if everybody steps forward and makes even a small donation we can get there.”

The around-the-clock VetsLinks hotline, operating everyday of the year, would help veterans navigate local, state and federal agencies and connect them with services, according to Rosalie Bonacci-Roberts, United Way VetsLink program manager.

Often, veterans may not know or have trouble finding what they need, she said.

“It’s frustrating at best and may act as a barrier to stressed, ill, aging or disabled veterans and their caretakers,” she said.

The call-in service would start with two counselors to answer veterans’ questions. They would dial HelpLink 2-1-1 and be prompted for the option.

“One of the benefits of VetsLink is as a database we keep the calls logged,” she said. “We will follow-up with the callers to see if they get the services they need and if not, why not.”

The region has more than 127,000 veterans in a nine-county region in Montgomery, Greene, Warren, Preble, Butler, Clark, Champaign, Madison and Clinton counties.

“We’re anticipating as they become more aware and reach out to them, the use (of the hotline) will increase,” Bonacci-Roberts said.

The United Way had targeted the start-up of the VetsLink hotline in late 2016at its Dayton call center, but securing the dollars needed to launch the program has been a challenge, she said.

“We think now, with this challenge grant, we’ll be able to find the resources and the support to launch on Veterans Day this year,” she said.

Donors may contact the United Way directly or mail a check to the non-profit charity at 33 W. First St., Suite 500, Dayton, Ohio 45402.

The United Way launched a hotline for senior citizens in 2016: SilverLink connects them to financial assistance, food pantries and other needs, according to Catherine Myers, a community outreach coordinator.