Working Together to Expand Services and Supports for Military Service Members,Â Veterans and their Families in Communities Across the Country
WASHINGTON, May 3, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --Â Today, Admiral Michael G. Mullen, United States Navy-Retired, honored Colonel David W. Sutherland, United States Army-Retired, for his many years of dedication and service during a retirement ceremony held at Arlington National Cemetery. Immediately following, Colonel Sutherland and Lieutenant Commander Kim Mitchell, formerly of the United States Navy, and Easter Seals, Inc., the nation's leading disability services organization, announced a new partnership to develop a nationwide network of collaborative, community-based services and supports for military service members, veterans and their families.
The two will team up to dramatically expand Easter Seals' role as a service provider and collaborator across America to close persistent, systemic and harmful gaps that diminish opportunities and the quality of life for millions of military service members, veterans and their families. The new partnership's focus will be to directly assist thousands with reintegration, employment, health status and family stability, as well as expand options for housing, transportation and recreation.
"Together, we'll work to build public awareness, encourage community involvement and promote community services while channeling resources and enabling those that have served our nation through a community-based model of collaboration," says Colonel David W. Sutherland, United States Army, Retired and former Special Assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
"We recognize that the urgent needs facing the community of military and veterans today will only be compounded by new and pressing needs among tens of thousands of service members returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet, the existing and probable safety net is distressingly inadequate," says James E. Williams, Jr., president and chief executive officer, Easter Seals. "In partnership with Colonel Sutherland, we're ready, able and committed to enhance our network and the communities we serve to better assist service members, veterans and their families with the depth and support they deserve."
Our soldiers are returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan with physical and psychological wounds. They face unemployment, families that are not always intact, and communities unable to meet their immediate and long-term needs. The numbers are alarming:
- To date, there are 47,740 wounded military from Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts
- Eleven to 20 percent of veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan and 30 percent of Vietnam-era veterans live with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
- In just over 10 years, nearly 250,000 soldiers have been diagnosed with Traumatic Brain Injury
- An estimated 18 veterans commit suicide every day; since 2001, 2,293 U.S. military have committed suicide.
- Twenty-seven percent of troops returning from Iraq/Afghanistan abuse alcohol
- One-fifth of the homeless population are veterans â" 107,000 on a given night
- The divorce rate for military families increased by 38 percent from 2001 to 2010
- In 2011, the unemployment rate for Gulf-war era veterans rose to 12.1 percent; for women, it's 12.4 percent
About Colonel David W. Sutherland, United States Army, Retired
Colonel David W. Sutherland most recently served as the Special Assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff with principle focus on Warrior and Family Support. Colonel Sutherland was commissioned an Infantry Officer in 1983 and holds a Bachelor's degree from Bowling Green State University in History and Economics and a Masters in Strategic Studies. Colonel Sutherland attended all levels of military education including Airborne, Ranger, Jumpmaster, the U. S. Army Command and General Staff College, and is a Senior Service College Graduate - Advanced Operational Studies Fellowship.
He has served in staff positions at Battalion through Division. While assigned as a Brigade staff officer he deployed to Kuwait as part of Operation Vigilant Warrior in 1994. Colonel Sutherland has also commanded at all levels from Platoon through Brigade. As a Company Commander, he deployed to South West Asia as part of Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm. While commanding 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team "Greywolf," 1st Cavalry Division Sutherland deployed to Iraq as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Colonel Sutherland served as the Coalition Force Commander in Diyala Province from October 2006 â" December 2007, which included surge operations. In July 2008, he was assigned to the Joint Staff as the Division Chief in J5 (Plans, Policy, and Strategy), Middle East Region.
Awards and decorations include, among others, the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster, the Bronze Star Medal with oak leaf cluster, the Purple Heart, the Meritorious Service Medal with six oak leaf clusters, the Joint Service Commendation Medal with two oak leaf clusters, the Ranger Tab, Combat Infantryman's Badge Second Award, and Senior Parachutist Badge. He is also the 2008 Freedom Award recipient presented by the No Greater Sacrifice Foundation and the 2011 Meritorious Service Award recipient presented by the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans for his work on behalf of returning Service Members, Veterans, Military Families, and Families of the Fallen.
Team Sutherland's roster includes Colonel Sutherland, his wife Bonnie and their two sons, Andrew and Patrick.
About Easter Seals
Easter Seals has provided direct services to the military community since World War II. In 2005, recognizing the new and unmet needs of so many returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, the organization renewed its commitment to military families and veterans by establishing a Military and Veterans Initiative to address serious gaps in service and mobilize its national community-based provider network. Today, Easter Seals serves thousands of military families across its 73 affiliates, 450 nationwide service sites, 24,000 professional staff and 40,000 local volunteers.
Easter Seals is the leading non-profit provider of services for individuals with autism, developmental disabilities, physical disabilities and other special needs. For more than 90 years, we have been offering help and hope to children and adults living with disabilities, and to the families who love them. Through therapy, training, education and support services, Easter Seals creates life-changing solutions so that people with disabilities can live, learn, work and play. Visit www.easterseals.com.
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