Easter Seals Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Community Services & Easter Seals Military and Veterans Initiative


Period: May 2012 - December 2015

"Dave Sutherland, of Easter Seals Dixon Center, has defined the American model of excellence for the successful reintegration of our Veterans and Military Families. From his tireless work in the Pentagon to the emergence of Easter Seals Dixon Center, Sutherland inspires and encourages all of us to break down the silos and never forget to put the Veteran and their needs first. His and Kim Mitchell's vision for collaboration and consolidation will greatly help our country drive the systemic changes that our brave Veterans and their families deserve."

Admiral Michael Mullen
U.S. Navy (Retired)
17th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

The current paradigm is that our U.S. veterans and military families come home to a grateful nation. Innovative leaders reject that paradigm and understand that our service members come home to their families, neighbors, and their communities. Through direct interaction, visits, and direct contacts in hundreds of communities and thousands of organizations, Easter Seals Dixon Center is a catalyst for change. Easter Seals Dixon Center is providing vision leadership and is a clearing house for more efficient and effective delivery of services or to services by the ‘whole of society’. This is achieved by assisting in the development of systems for organizations: finding veterans, focusing on their needs, and creating community-based solutions. Working with communities is the solution to advancing a whole of society approach that moves from collaboration to consolidation through the development of collective impact initiatives. Easter Seals is a trusted national nonprofit organization with a 60-year track record in providing services to American veterans and military families. Through its partnership with Easter Seals, Easter Seals Dixon Center leverages this community-based network of 71 affiliates, 550 site locations, 24,000 professional staff, and 40,000 local volunteers. These collective impacts, achieved through organizational leadership and direct service, result in the structural changes that maximize public and private resources and most importantly, enable our veterans and families to thrive; where they live.

OVERARCHING COMMUNITY-CENTERED PRINCIPLE Assistance and Systems Change & Direct Service Strategy

Easter Seals Dixon Center and Easter Seals see veterans’ quality of life achieved through a holistic approach that encompasses (3) key elements: employment, education, and access to health care. These elements significantly influence the quality of life for veterans, their families, and the families of the fallen in communities across the country.


The partnership between Easter Seals Dixon Center and Easter Seals strives for a measurable, collective impact with a commitment to transparency, accountability, and the ongoing demonstration of progress in serving veterans and their families. Collectively, data is captured, analyzed and reported, and course corrections are made as needed.

Period: MAY 2012 - DECEMBER 2015


Advise and Assist Social, Private and Public Sector Decision-Makers to achieve a whole of society approach: Educate, inform, inspire, motivate and counsel decision-makers in actions that improve access to services organization through the consolidation of organization for military service members, veterans and their families, and the families of the fallen.




Advise and Assist Social, Private and Public Sector leaders to achieve a partner-centric approach


DIRECT SERVICE: Easter Seals Military and Veterans Initiative


8,000 Individual Social Sector leaders

100% Easter Seals affiliates and service sites provide services for veterans and military families

4300 Individual Private Sector Decision-Makers

3 White Papers

35 Outreach Events

Material Generation

2 Blogs a quarter

100 Daily Social Network interactions with content excellence per quarter


Informed decision-makers will outreach to veterans and military families; and focus on the needs of veterans and military families utilizing community-based solutions

Build and increase public awareness, and encourage community involvement to be inclusive of veterans and military families supports & services using all source media

Increase meaningful employment opportunities

Increase graduation rates from college/university/trade school

Increase access to financial services, education, counseling, and veteran treatment courts nationwide

Increase participation by faith- based community

Identify homeless veterans and connect to assistance

Increase enrollment in VA Health & Benefits

Establish new and sustained Peer-to-Peer Networks

Since Easter Seals Dixon Center was founded in May 2012 more than $26 million has been generated in nonprofit investment for local communities.

MEASURE: Meaningful engagement of social, private and public sector decision-makers in a setting that can be documented, interactive or didactic, and includes a follow-up based on a prescribed time table using standardized methods such as attendance tracking tools; pre-and-post testing; online survey tools; and follow up communications (email, phone, in person) to track change/outcomes.

  • 3000 employers (small-business owners to CEOs of international corporations who have authority and policy making responsibility for recruitment, hiring, and training functions)
    Impact: 3000 employers who have engaged with Easter Seals Dixon Center via conferences, convenings, forums, workshops, meetings or in one-to-one interactions will generate improvements, changes and advances in hiring and retaining thousands veterans, and/or family members after adopting components of the Model of Excellence Employment, Education/Training, Access to Healthcare.
  • 500 health and human service providers (community-based health clinics to federally qualified health centers/hospitals)
    Impact: 500 health and human service providers engaged with Easter Seals Dixon Center will provide improved outreach, improved care and service, and more culturally appropriate care to tens of thousands of veterans and their family members each year.
  • 175 philanthropists
    Impact: 175 philanthropists engaged with Easter Seals Dixon Center talks, convenings, workshops, seminars will become more focused and directed in their giving specific to veterans and their families.
  • 25 foundation executives
    Impact: 25 foundation executives engaged with Easter Seals Dixon Center talks, convenings, workshops, seminars will facilitate enhancements to portfolios dedicated to providing support, resources, and services to veterans and their families.
  • 25 faith-based leaders
    Impact: 25 faith-based leaders engaged with Easter Seals Dixon Center will influence the members of their congregations to ‘welcome back’ veterans; and by facilitating inclusion of veterans in their community support service offerings via adopting components of the Model of Excellence.
  • 100 labor leaders
    Impact: 100 labor leaders engaged with Easter Seals Dixon Center messages will recruit, train, and hire veterans in the trades.
  • 275 educators and academics
    Impact: 275 educators engaged with Easter Seals Dixon Center via talks, convenings, workshops, seminars will develop more informed, proactive research, curriculum and knowledge-sharing on veterans issues.
  • 150 members of the media
    Impact: 150 members of the media engaged with Easter Seals Dixon Center will be informed on: who is the returning veteran; what do veterans and their families need; where are the gaps in services; and, what’s being done to fill the gaps?
  • 50 state executive and legislative branch leaders
    Impact: Easter Seals Dixon Center will meet with 50 leaders to influence changes on Veteran-friendly rules and regulations related to credentialing and licensing, in-state tuition, and encouraging public-private partnerships that advance social welfare policy and programs.
  • 35 Legislative Outreach
    Impact: Easter Seals Dixon Center and the Easter Seals’ Office of Public Affairs will conduct outreach in the form of 35 meetings to the Office of the President and Office of the Vice President, Department leadership, and Congressional leadership on potential legislative and executive branch priorities on key issues related to veteran health, education, and employment.
  • Material Generation
    Impact: Easter Seals Dixon Center and the Easter Seals’ Office of Public Affairs will research, write, and disseminate 5 briefs, and 5 written documents (i.e., testimony, position papers) and 3 White Papers that build upon the ‘Sea of Goodwill Matching the Donor to the Need’ to inform and influence legislative bodies, think tanks, and legal and philanthropic entities.

"COL Sutherland demonstrated his selfless courage and dedication to his peers and the men and women who served with him on a daily basis. The development of Easter Seals Dixon Center and Sutherland's dedication to warriors and family services in his retirement is an effort that the International Brotherhood of Teamsters will proudly stand shoulder to shoulder with. The Teamsters along with Easter Seals Dixon Center will continue to fight for those who fought for us”.

General President,
James P. Hoffa,
International Brotherhood of Teamsters


Convene and Mobilize Communities Nationwide: Map, plan, assess, evaluate, and create public awareness of the current state of veterans and military family services. Identify the gaps in services within communities using a holistic approach that focuses on the Model Of Excellence: Education, Employment, and Access to Healthcare.


Convene and Mobilize Communities Nationwide


DIRECT SERVICE: Easter Seals Military and Veterans Initiative


100 Communities/Leadership

30 Community Events

12 Community Mapping Events


Community leaders create collective impact initiatives :
-Common Agenda
-Shared Measurement System
-Mutually Reinforcing Activities
-Continuous Communications
- Backbone Support Organization

MEASURE: Meaningful engagement of stakeholders of veterans service organizations that can be documented, interactive or didactic, and includes a follow-up based on a prescribed time table using standardized methods such as attendance tracking tools; pre-and-post testing; online survey tools; follow up communications (email, phone, in person) at pre-determined intervals to gauge level of change and outcomes.

  • 30 Community Convenings/Forums
    Impact: Conduct 30 community events (in person and remote) that reach a network of over 1000 organizations that inform, inspire, and result in improved coordination, consolidation via partnerships with Memorandums of Understandings, acquisitions and/or mergers of previously separate entities.

    Impact: Conduct 12 community mapping asset sessions to identify existing programs, those that are duplicated, and gaps in services relative to need.


  • Cincinnati, OH Easter Seals Tri State
  • Indianapolis, IN Crossroads Easter Seals
  • Lincoln, NB Lincoln Community Foundation
  • Minneapolis & St. Cloud, MN Easter Seals/Goodwill


Stand Up Rally Points : Advocate for creation of Rally Points or specific physical locations within communities that enable veterans and their families to access information and assistance on issues pertaining to health care, employment, education, housing, financial and legal problems, and strategies for accessing VA services.


Stand Up Rally Points


DIRECT SERVICE: Easter Seals Military and Veterans Initiative


6 Rally Points established in local Easter Seals

25 New Rally Points within communities nationwide

Daily, Monthly, & Annual social media messaging; website

Local Easter Seals affiliates using Social Network to manage ‘no wrong door’ approach

10 Local and National media interactions quarterly


Rally Point locations provide information and resources on the supports and services for 25,000 veterans and their families

MEASURE: Track numbers of Rally Points that are Easter Seals Dixon Center inspired, advised and stood up by Easter Seals, and other communities nationwide.

  • Advise, support and assist in standing up Rally Points in communities

    Impact: Incorporate rally point strategy in community convening and consultations.

    Impact: Inform stakeholders of rally point concept and existing/emerging innovative models; and advise and support dialogue with and between rally point organizers.

    Impact: Stand up 6 new Easter Seals Rally Points; and 25 nationwide.

Build Capacity For And Expand Direct Services: Enhance Easter Seals services for military service members and veterans and their families, and families of the fallen through inclusion in an existing array of programs and services; and the creation and expansion of services specifically designed to meet the needs of the military and veterans communities.


Build Capacity For And Expand Direct Services


DIRECT SERVICE: Easter Seals Military and Veterans Initiative


150,000 Veterans and Families

1,000 Communities using a whole of society approach

60,000 social sector organizations being inclusive in providing supports and services for veterans and their families


Improved quality of life access to employment, education and healthcare.

MEASURE: 150,000 veterans and their families receive information, referrals and access to direct and support services within the continuum of care.

  • 75,000 Veterans and Family Members Reached via Health and Wellness Services including: VA Caregivers, Community OneSource™ Programs, Physical & Behavioral Health Services, Information & Referral Assistance

    Impact: 90% of veterans in the Easter Seals system report they have accessed health/well-being service

    Impact: 70% report improvement in their health, mental health and wellbeing
  • 25,000 Veterans and Family Members Reached via Workforce Development including: Job Readiness, Placement & Support Services

    Impact: 75% of veterans who participate in job readiness/career development obtain livable wage employment

    Impact: 50% retain employment greater than 6 months
  • 15,000 Veterans and Family Members Reached via Training and Education including: On-the Job Training, Certification, Licensing and Higher Education

    Impact: 80% of veterans engaged in Easter Seals services who desire education services are placed appropriately

    Impact: 60% complete a higher education degree, certification/license or professional credential
  • 20,000 Veterans and Family Members Reached via Residential Services and Case Management including: Placement in transitional, supportive and housing, and access to residential services

    Impact: 90%of veterans seeking housing assistance from Easter Seals report satisfaction and have secured housing

    Impact: 75% maintain housing for greater than 6 months
  • 15,000 Veterans and Family Members Reached via Family Support & Services including: Respite Services and Camping & Recreation

    Impact: 100% of veteran family members report receiving satisfactory support from Easter Seals

    Impact: 80% report changes in child access to normal activities


  • Family Support
  • Adult Day Services
  • Assistive Technology
  • Child Care
  • Camping & Recreation
  • Employment Services
  • Veterans Count
  • Respite Care

PERIOD: MAY 2012 MAY 2013

Easter Seals Dixon Center Serving integral role in development and design
Workforce Efforts [Selected Non-Easter Seals Projects]

Heroes to HealthCare (H2HC): $350,000 Pilot Program launched in Illinois for veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces, Reserve and National Guard to find gainful employment opportunities through no-cost training in the health care industries. H2HC will train HR communities in the Health Care Industry the essentials of transitioning medics from the military into civilian employment. H2HC also identify assessed career paths for those individuals with specialty training and skill sets so that the employer and/or industry expert can bridge the gaps and impediments that a veteran may encounter.

Teamsters Military Assistance Program (TMAP): Veterans Affairs approved CDL Training & Apprenticeship - National Training to Placement Program. TMAP was launched in Illinois as Labor/ Management partnership to assist Veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces, Reserve and Guard candidates to obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL) via the Illinois Teamsters Labor/Management training program—TMAP was designed to help veterans, guard and reserve surmount obstacles to finding work in the transportation industry after returning home. The program is currently operating in ten states throughout the country. Teamsters and Department of Defense will be launching a mobile training program that will be offered to active military candidates a year prior to separation.

“Using the Teamsters Military Assistance Program enabled me to find a full-time job after my military service, enhance my skills and keep working enough to put food on the table for my family for years.”

This sums up the experience that Garcia, a member of Local 142 in Gary, Ind., has had since he relied upon the guidance of the TMAP. TMAP is associated with the Helmets to Hardhats program, which the Teamsters has been actively involved in for years; and provides employment assistance to military veterans for jobs in the construction industry.

Helmets to Hardhats: Assists military service members successfully transition back into civilian life by offering them the means to secure a quality career in the construction industry. Federal approved apprenticeship training programs come at no cost to the veteran; no prior experience required; the 3-5 year paid apprenticeship programs teaches skills needed to work in a specialized skilled craft. Service members can use the Montgomery G.I. Bill benefits to supplement their incomes while in the program.

Utility Workers Military Assistance Programs (U-MAP): $3.5 Million Public/Private Partnership: National and Electric Training to Placement is open to veterans who have recently returned from service and provides the skills and knowledge needed to become successful in a career pathway within the Gas Utility Sector. The U-Map Program provides an intensive 7-month training program, which includes a one-month paid internship and mentorship with experienced journey-level gas utility workers. Classes are for credit and are taught through the Wright College and Dawson Technical Colleges, which are part of the Chicago Community College system.

Gray Wolves Telecom LLC: $1.5 Million + Pilot: National Communications/Telecoms Industry. A strategic training-to-placement program designed to train and retain veterans, reserve, and guard candidates seeking long-term careers in the Telecoms industry.

Veterans to Manufacturing: $400k Pilot: North Business Industrial Center, Illinois. A public-private partnership launched with small businesses in manufacturing, state workforce partnerships, and the Alliance for Manufacturing.

Women for Wounded Warriors (W4WW): Based in Chicago, the mission of W4WW is to provide economic empowerment to the caregivers of our fallen, as well as the wounded warriors to enhance and improve their lives. Those who have worn the uniform and their family members who have faced the challenges and made the sacrifices as their loved ones have carried out their missions, and who are in need and require assistance.

Farmer/Haile Foundations
Operation Veterans THRIVE

A 3-year, $1.8 million project funded by the Farmer Family Foundation and the Carol Anne and Ralph V. Haile, Jr./U.S. Bank Foundation to conduct community asset mapping to determine the assets within the Cincinnati, Ohio community, and to identify the gaps in service and solutions to meet the needs of veterans and their families. The primary focus is on employment, learning/education/development, health/well-being and recreation, family resources and housing. A regional Community OneSource? will be stood up that will be tied to the National Easter Seals program (HQ). The project is a partnership of Easter Seals Dixon Center, Easter Seals TriState, and Easter Seals, Inc.

Goal: To serve 500 veterans and their families within Cincinnati, OH communities.


  • Initial community convening held 5 February 2013; 64 individuals representing 39 organizations were in attendance, with a focus on employment.
  • Widespread media/public awareness obtained.
  • Director of Veteran Services hired in March 2013.
  • Community OneSource? (COS) navigator and Employment specialist hiring in process; conference calls and info sharing with COS HQ in place and ongoing.
  • Next convening 10 June 2013 with a focus on the business community.

Lessons Learned: The initial reaction to the Call to Action within the community was much greater than anticipated. Major stakeholders in the community immediately ‘signed on’ and formed task force groups which continue to meet regularly. In addition, a significant partnership with the Gateway Community and Technical College in Cincinnati was formed that provided an immediate pipeline to nearly 400 student veterans.

BNY Mellon Foundation

This is a partnership of Easter Seals New York, FedCap, Easter Seals Dixon Center and Easter Seals Headquarters supported by a $100,000 grant from BNY Mellon Foundation and a $30,000 donation from Anderson funds. It encompasses community gatherings of businesses, veterans groups, nonprofit providers, educational facilities, and government agencies; ongoing readiness workshops for veterans; two Connect2Careers events led by FedCap; and follow-ups of veterans and tracking for employment by Easter Seals New York.

Goal: Serve 150 veterans; with 50 obtaining and retaining jobs for a minimum of 6 months.


  • Initial convening occurred on 4 March 2013.
  • Job Readiness activities initiated with 70 veterans.
  • First Connect 2Career event held on 16 April 2013 with 40 veterans and 18 businesses attending.
  • Next Connect2Careers scheduled 6 June 2013. Over 70 veterans are signed up and 20 businesses.

Lessons Learned: Military officers and staff involved have experienced that the younger veterans (20 to 30-year olds) express hesitation and lack of confidence regarding attending job readiness activities. In response, and to promote and achieve participation, the officers and staff reinforce that it is precisely their reluctance to participate that necessitates the need to participate to prepare them for the transition to the civilian workforce.

Newman’s Own Foundation
Community Forums & Rally Points

Easter Seals Crossroads, Easter Seals Minnesota, Easter Seals HQ, and Easter Seals Dixon Center have formed a partnership to conduct a two-year $300,000 project.

Goal: To map, plan, assess, and evaluate the current state of veterans and military family services and; identify the gaps in services within these communities using a holistic approach that focuses on three areas: education, employment and access to healthcare; and develop Rally Point sites in Indianapolis and St. Cloud.

Status: Easter Seals Crossroads in Indianapolis-

  • (3) full convenings since 22 January 2013; next convening to be held on 30 May 2013
  • Task force groups have been meeting to develop specific activities and priorities for each of the (4) focus areas of employment/education, housing/homeless, family support/financial planning, health care/mental health
  • More than 30 organizations are involved in this work

Easter Seals Minnesota in St. Cloud-

  • (3) convenings have occurred since 13 March 2013
  • Initial meeting had 150 people attend, with over 50 attending subsequent meetings.
  • Each meeting there have been new organizations attending and new people from repeat organizations. Last meeting had an increase number representing the business community.
  • Developing a strategic plan for the rally point development
  • Future meetings will be smaller focus groups
  • Strategic workgroup is being formed, including representation from the local base.

Lessons Learned: Participants from the initial sessions in both Indianapolis and St. Cloud continue to meet regularly; they have engaged additional participants, and are working together as Community Action Teams. Notably, at one of the covenings, a representative from one of the military installations voiced a concern that these convenings were duplicative, thereby rendering them unnecessary. As the meetings continued and the momentum continued -- the community participants increased in numbers, thereby validating that the communities stakeholders involved found value, and moreover, were identifying solutions to the challenges they are facing.

U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs
Veterans Caregiver Training Program

Easter Seals Headquarters was awarded the contract to continue the Veterans Caregiver Training Program by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. Year 1 (2013) is the first of a 3-year option totaling $8.6 million if all options are exercised. National partners include Atlas Research, Axiom Resource Management, Family Caregiver Alliance, and National Alliance for Hispanic Health and National Alliance on Caregiving, as well as a number of Easter Seals affiliates who serve as trainers.

Goal: To provide training via workbook, online and classroom to post-9/11 wounded service personnel caregivers. In addition, provide general caregiving classes to all age groups.

Status: To date we have served over 12,421 caregivers in the program. New modules for general caregivers are being created and are in the approval process with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Since January 2013, the program has processed:

  • 531 workbook completions (78% of VA projection)
  • 1,542 on line completions (113.7% of projection)

Lessons Learned: Now it its third year the VA’s National Veteran Caregiver Training Program provides needed training to Caregivers of veterans across the United States. Over a three-year period the Caregiver satisfaction levels have been consistently favorable with the most significant positive results found across the following feedback measures: effectiveness of the training method; increased knowledge and skill in behavior management and self-care; confidence in caregiving capacity; overall satisfaction with the training program, and knowledge of new recourses.

Caregiver Training

The USO has engaged Easter Seals to provide caregiver training to active military caregivers who are receiving medical services at Fort Belvoir and Bethesda Naval/ Walter Reed Army Hospitals. Through a partnership with Easter Seals Serving DC|MD|VA we are providing monthly classes to caregivers based on topics identified by the USO. These will be offered in English and Spanish. This pilot project was initiated in February 2013 and potentially, will be expanded to other sites by year-end.

Goal: To provide caregiver training to active military caregivers receiving medical services.

Status: New curriculum for caregivers of service personnel in the Warrior Transition Units has been developed. Training is underway.

Legacy Corps
Caregiver Support Services

Funded through the Corporation for National and Community Services’ AmeriCorps program, Legacy Corps is administered by the University of Maryland, Department of Health Services Administration. Legacy Corps is a multi-site, evidence-based health intervention and community-based caregiver support program that utilizes highly trained AmeriCorps volunteers to provide a range of caregiver support services focusing on in-home respite care for Service members/Veterans and their families.

Goal: Development and delivery of a 7-module training series on topics ranging from:

  • Military Culture
  • Home Life and Family Issues
  • Veteran Personal Care
  • Amputation, Burn Injuries, and Blindness/Visual Impairment
  • Depression, Substance Abuse & Suicide Prevention
  • TBI, PTSD & Alzheimer’s disease
  • Privacy, Legal & Financial Issues

Status: Easter Seals affiliates make up 4 of the 17 service sites (Easter Seals New Hampshire, Easter Seals Southeast Wisconsin, Easter Seals Serving DC|MD|VA and Easter Seals South Florida). These Easter Seals affiliates have recruited and trained 164 AmeriCorps volunteers to provide respite support for Military/Veterans families (out of a total of 540 Legacy Corps positions sponsored by the University of MD).

US Department of Transportation
National Veterans Online Dialogue & Community Assistance

Easter Seals Project ACTION hosted a national dialogue on veteran transportation in 2012 2,241 individuals visited this site during the one-month online event. 459 individuals registered and provided ideas, voted or gave comments. These registered users generated 1,073 actions: 78 ideas, 239 comments, and 756 votes, and, represent the most engaged set of registrants.

Foundation For Financial Planning (FFP)
Financial Planning Services

This $100,000 grant provides for financial planning services for veterans at three sites Syracuse, NY, Cincinnati, OH, and Salem, Oregon. Easter Seals and Easter Seals Dixon Center will provide online access to FFP’s financial planning tool for military and veterans. Financial Planners will provide workshops and pro-bono services to veterans as well as introduction to the field for employment purposes.

Goal: Assist 500 veterans and their families become financially stable via information and tools.

Status: Meetings have been initiated with each of the named affiliates and contacts have been provided by the Foundation for Financial Planning. Marketing material is being developed by Easter Seals HQ Communication Department.

Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors (RPA)
Serving Women Veterans and Families

An award of $100,000 was granted to Easter Seals HQ, Easter Seals Dixon Center, and Easter Seals New Jersey to develop a pilot program to identify the mental health support services available to meet the needs of women veterans. Matching funds by Easter Seals New Jersey have been joined with the RPA award to:

  • Engage community organizations, businesses, government agencies and veterans groups to identify, leverage, and coordinate the system of supports needed by women veterans in the selected community, as well as educate them on the needs of women veterans.
  • A rally event will be held for women veterans and their families to introduce them to the community resources identified through the convening and community action team. Experts on women’s issues, veterans and mental health will speak about self-care and empowerment; and women veterans will create a peer-mentoring program.

Goal: To reach 200 women veterans; and bring together 75 participants and stakeholders.


  • Program staff hired
  • Initial convening set for 16 August 2013 at Easter Seals New Jersey headquarters
  • Rally event scheduled for 22 October 2013 at Rutgers University the State University