Veterans, service members can get direct access to services by calling 311

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Chicago has found a new way to help military veterans and active-duty service members: Using the 311 intake assessment and training process to more easily connect them to services and resources.

The 311 initiative was launched Friday, and 311 operators now ask if callers who request certain types of help if they are vets or active service, according to a statement from the mayor’s office. That would include homeless prevention services, employment services, senior well-being checks, emergency food, and crisis referral services.

If the answer is yes, callers will be connected to resources and programs already designed to aid veterans and current service members.

“Many returning veterans have struggled to gain access to needed services in a timely manner,” Victor Lagroon, acting chair of the Mayor’s Advisory Council on Veteran’s Affairs, said in the statement. “Important steps like this will ensure that fewer veterans and their families will find themselves without much needed resources and support.”

It one of several city efforts to better serve veterans and their families in Chicago.

The Returning Veterans initiative, which helps find resources and employment for returning veterans, was launched in 2013; and in 2014, the city’s first veteran’s preference bid incentive on city contracts program was established.

“The brave men and women who have sacrificed so much and risked their lives in service to our country deserve our support here at home,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in the statement.

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