The Alaska Warrior Partnership instigates community service partnerships for Homer veterans

The Alaska division of America’s Warrior Partnership met with businesses, agencies and veterans at the Kachemak Bay Campus Wednesday, April 3 to provide a presentation on what the organization does to help coordinate community resources and services to improve life benefits for U.S. military veterans.

The national program website describes the intentions of the organization as providing an upstream approach to veteran empowerment through connections, education, advocacy and collaboration with veterans, their families, caregivers and the communities that support them. The national program mission also has a larger emphasis on preventing veteran suicide, according to their website. The partnership in Homer is funded through the Homer Foundation.

Alaska Warrior Partnership program lead, Jessy Larkin, described the intention of the meeting in Homer.

“Our organization and the Homer Foundation came together to create a lower Kenai Peninsula partnership meeting. The concept is to bring resources in the region. It could be either nonprofits or for-profits or government agencies, to form partnerships to figure out how to solve problems for local veterans.”

This meeting was designed to have everyone come together and brainstorm, she said. “‘Together we can do better’ is the biggest takeaway we get from this.”

Homer Foundation Director Mike Miller said the foundation likes starting new initiatives, “especially those that have a track record of success.”

He said Alaska’s Warrior Partnership “has been successful in every area of the state.”

“They made a good case that the same model they’ve used other places would be effective here. So, we were happy to fund it and we’re looking forward to greater collaboration between businesses and agencies that care about veterans is this area.”

The organization plans to host quarterly meetings in the community. They also hosted a test meeting last year. The April 3 meeting was the first of the quarterly meetings.

“There are about 120 veterans in the community of Homer that have already come together and formed some sort of partnership; we just need to grow the meeting participation rate to keep the connections expanding,” Larkin said.

Abby Brown, military veteran advisor for Sen. Dan Sullivan, said that Sen. Sullivan was the person who instigated the formation of the state branch of the America Warrior Partnership project.

She explained that the size of the state is better suited to a state-run program rather than a city or community program as it would be structured in more urban regions of the country.

When the national program came to Alaska and toured the state, they confirmed that a state-run division would be feasible here compared to a city program. Brown said she attended the meeting in Homer as a representative of Sen. Sullivan to demonstrate that he cares for all of the communities he serves and veterans in the state. Brown said the program in the state has only been around for a few years; the national program has been in service for 10 years.

“It’s also important for me to bring feedback to him on communities and services I visit in the state. He wants to know what the challenges are that veterans are facing out in the different regions,” she said.

Larkin said the organization serves 93 communities in the state from Utqiagvik to Juneau. The partnership meetings take place in Fairbanks, Anchorage and the Matanuska-Susitna region, Kenai and the lower Kenai Peninsula, he said.

Miller noted that 12% of Alaskans are veterans and when you consider this organization as a resource to veterans families, that percentage obviously increases.

As the Alaska Warrior Partnership states, “Alaska boasts the highest veteran population per capita with more than 65,000 calling Alaska home. The state also hosts one of the largest military installations in the country.”

“There are a fair amount of your friends and neighbors that have are associated together with similar experiences that they’ve had, whether they’re combat veterans or non-combat veterans. There is a lot of shared trauma and this is a great way to make sure that resources that are already there are known. Sometimes people just don’t know where to turn for help and this is a great way to bring providers together,” Miller said.

Meeting attendee Mike Smith is veteran, retired from the Army for approximately a year, and said he’s glad he was able to learn more about the program.

“I want to apply my experience as a construction technician, especially to the young people around, and just be an advocate for the services and the opportunity it provides. One of the partners here was interested in building a little village for veterans to come into for medical care, so I’d certainly like to get involved with them and help to construct a modular unit and see where the project goes,” Smith said.

Larkin explained that the organization is largely funded by grants. As previously mentioned, the Homer Foundation funded the local program and all of the money provided through that grant will be used locally. Examples of collaborations the organizations has contributed to in other parts of the state can be found at

The Alaska Warrior Partnership noted that U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs will hold a Veteran Town Hall meeting with the Alaska VA Healthcare System Director Tom Steinbrunner on May 29 from 6-7 p.m. at the Kachemak Bay Campus more information will be available closer to the event date.