Checkpoint Where Military Meets Community

By: Paula Green

Checkpoint_Heinz_0558_smaller              Southwestern Pennsylvania has the distinction of having one of the highest quantities of military Veterans in the United States.  Locally, the number of young Veterans living in Pittsburgh is estimated to be nearly 32,000.

Whenever these service men and women return home, they are in need of resources to help them find employment, job training, healthcare and housing.  Fortunately, there is an organization that helps Veterans and military families bridge the gap and find the proper connections within their community.

Checkpoint provides a platform for the collective voice of both, Veterans and the local communities, in which they reside.  They simplify the process for all Veterans of the United States military and their families to connect to resources in their communities regardless of their age, service type, rank or situation.

Checkpoint was founded this past January by Jared Souder, a U.S. Army Veteran.   Souder served with multiple units within 4th Infantry Division’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team; he was in Iraq from late 2005 into 2006.  In 2009, he became the executive director of Veterans Place of Washington Boulevard, a Pittsburgh nonprofit, dedicated to ending homelessness among the region’s Veterans.

In 2010, while at Veterans Place, he was part of a small group of local leaders and community representatives who created a peer-to-peer collaboration and information-sharing network of service providers in western Pennsylvania. That group, focused on better delivery of services to Veterans and military families through inter-agency collaboration and information sharing, which ultimately became part of the inspiration for the creation of Checkpoint.

“With as many young Vets as we have here in the Pittsburgh area, I think we really have a responsibility to be on the cutting edge of what’s being done to reintegrate these folks into their communities.  We’ve got to find better ways to help them build great lives and thrive,” said Souder.

On July 2, Checkpoint hosted a Red, White & Brew Event at the Grist House in Millvale. Over 100 young Veterans attended this social affair which allowed Veterans to socialize and connect with one another.  Guests included members of Steel City Vets, Team Red White & Blue’s Pittsburgh Chapter and The Mission Continues Pittsburgh Service Platoon.

Another way Checkpoint assists service members is with their web resources.  Their online platform provides information on what is happening in the region’s Veteran community.  It lists data on medical providers and career advancement, and even offers peer reviews.  The site highlights government services, substance dependency, housing, financial, legal and advocacy services, peer groups and more.

Visit www.thecheckpoint.org to learn more about what Checkpoint is doing for the Veterans of southwest Pennsylvania.