A way for U.S. Jewish veterans returning home to connect with their Jewish communities
More than two million men and women have served in the U.S. armed forces since September 11, 2001. As they return home from their military service, they settle into new cities and begin to build their futures. Some are learning how to live with disabilities – visible and not visible, but most are trying to define who they are after their time in combat and years of service. No one returns from war unchanged.
JCC Association and the JWB Jewish Chaplains Council are proud to introduce Project Welcome Home as a way to help returning veterans. This program positions JCCs as community leaders in supporting and honoring returning veterans. When they went to war at our nation’s call, the JCC Movement supported their Jewish life through the sponsorship of JCC Association’s JWB Jewish Chaplains Council. Now these Jewish men and women who served in the U.S. military are looking for ways to enter the Jewish community. JCCs are a natural entry point.
Project Welcome Home is a way to help veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom, and Operation New Dawn (OIF/OEF/OND) connect with their Jewish communities. JCCs participating in this pilot year of the program are committed to supporting returning veterans through a variety of programs, membership incentives for veterans and their families, reaching out to local veteran service organizations to create partnerships, and targeted outreach to veteran and military families, such as those involved in early childhood and youth programs. Community service and leadership opportunities for veterans are another highlight of this program, as JCCs work with veterans to engage them in the next mission – service in the Jewish community.
Project Welcome Home – Programming Guides
In 2014, JWB Jewish Chaplains Council launched Project Welcome Home in six JCCs, focusing on supporting returning veterans. The program grew to include current military personnel and families, and brought an awareness of Jews in the military to the greater Jewish community. JCCs engaged in conversations on how to serve military personnel and veterans, offered membership incentives to them, developed programs and increased awareness throughout the JCC about Jews in the military. Project Welcome Home continues to expand, offering services to JCCs throughout the country. Program guides and other resources are available here and by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Guide to Best Practices features the learning experiences from the pilot year as well as presents ideas for programming, membership, engagement and outreach.
The Veterans Day Program Guide features programming ideas, templates for ceremonies and panel discussions, and social action projects to commemorate Veterans Day.
The Memorial Day Program Guide features programming ideas, text studies, templates for ceremonies and social action projects to commemorate Memorial Day. Chaplains and lay leaders can also download a selection of Memorial Day prayers.
2014-2015 Pilot JCCs
We are proud to be part of the Elizabeth Dole Foundation‘s coalition of faith-based organizations supporting caregivers. The family and friends who dedicate themselves to caring for an injured service man or woman or veteran are often “hidden heroes,” whose unrecognized support goes on behind the scenes. The impact on their lives, too, is tremendous. Faith-based organizations are leaders in offering support, based on the findings of the RAND Corporation. JCC Association, through JWB Jewish Chaplains Council, is proud to be the first Jewish organization to be a part of the coalition.
National Veteran Service Organizations
Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA)
Jewish War Veterans
Wounded Warrior Project
Got Your Six
Student Veterans of America
American Red Cross
American Gold Star Mothers, Inc.
Fundamental Educational Resources for Veterans
These are only a few of many organizations dedicated to helping veterans and their families. For more comprehensive lists, visit the National Resource Directory.