Fundraising goal: $5 for each Smith County veteran

Published on Monday, 5 May 2014 22:43 - Written by KELLY GOOCH kgooch@tylerpaper.com

A fundraising campaign has laun-ched to benefit East Texas veterans, military members and their families.

The campaign, called BRAVO Tyler, Texas, honors outgoing Mayor Barbara Bass, who has supported veterans and military issues, said Lynne Spivey, founding member of the East Texas Veterans Alliance.

The goal is to raise $80,295, which represents $5 for each Smith County veteran. Ms. Spivey said the county has more than 16,000 veterans, according to the most recent U.S. Census Bureau numbers. Proceeds will go into a fund that is set up with the East Texas Community Foundation.

Ms. Spivey said the funds raisedwill help fund further work of the Mayor’s Veterans and Community Roundtable and allow the East Texas Veterans Alliance, which is in the process of becoming an official nonprofit, to do more as it pursues veterans and military issues. The alliance’s mission is “to strengthen the community-based safety net for East Texas service members, veterans and military families.”

Ms. Spivey said veterans and military members in the Tyler/Smith County area rely on the community, so there are various organizations and agencies that provide resources. However, that service can be strengthened through the East Texas Veterans Alliance, which plans to provide veterans, military members and families a “one-stop shop” for information on health care, education, job training and housing, among other things, she said.

“We’re trying to create a unified voice … and make things easier for those looking for services,” she said, adding that the alliance, once it is officially a nonprofit, can go after funding opportunities that some volunteer organizations weren’t able to.

“Because our service members are returning … they need a little assist sometimes. … They need that one place they can go.”

Ms. Spivey said the desire is not only to make it more practical for a veteran coming into the community to get information on resources, but also to make integration easier for military members who are coming home, and encourage veterans to be involved in the community.

The alliance plans to have an office, where it would serve as a “coordinator of resources,” she said.

Within the next several weeks, she would like to hit the $80,295 campaign target goal, Ms. Spivey said. In the meantime, she said, representatives from the East Texas Veterans Alliance have been talking to people who have generated interest in the fundraising campaign and are handing out materials.

Information about the campaign and the East Texas Veterans Alliance is available atwww.etvalliance.org . Ms. Spivey said donations can be made with an East Texas Veterans Alliance board member or via mail. Checks payable to East Texas Community Foundation with “East Texas Veterans Alliance Foundation” as the subject may be sent to East Texas Community Foundation, 315 N. Broadway Ave., Suite 210, Tyler, Texas 75702.

Ms. Spivey said the public also may read more about the city’s efforts for veterans and military members atwww.tylerveterans.com .