Easy and unbiased access to help

By     Nov 8, 2017

Jill Baker

Born and raised on military bases, Jill Baker served her country in the United States Army during the Persian Gulf War era. After graduating from South Dakota State University in 1994, Ms. Baker moved to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where she worked in the human service field until she became a wife and mother. Ms. Baker returned to Graduate School in the Spring of 2017 to continue her education and pursue her interest in advocating for current and former service members who have experienced difficulties transitioning back into the civilian lifestyle. She is especially interested in developing collaborative impact networks for survivors of Military Sexual Trauma. With a talent for writing, she has published numerous poems and a short story through the Veterans Voices Writing Project. It is her intent to continue expanding her role in these endeavors through both academic study and the Literary Arts.

As we honor the more than 21.6 million military veterans who have Served in the United States Armed Forces this November 11th, I would like to personally thank my father for his 22 years of service as an Air Force Missileer. I would also like to extend a hand of gratitude to my fellow sisters who have worn the uniform (there are nearly 2 million of us) with pride, commitment, and dedication to this great country.

I conceived of the StopMST project during a moment of inspiration, soon after participating in an invigorating discussion with a professional colleague. We were brainstorming ways in which communities can form collective impact networks in support of veterans and their families. With fewer than 40% of veterans utilizing Veteran’s Administration Healthcare Systems, and as a veteran who struggled to find the support she needed through the years, I feel a great sense of responsibility and a driven purpose to help connect those elusive dots for our younger generation of veterans.

I believe the most valuable tool during a crisis situation is easy and unbiased access to help. A lifeline during times of great need can save a life. The Veterans Crisis Line and Safe Helpline are available to veterans and active duty service members and their families should they need it. My fear is that a veteran or service member in crisis will NOT utilize those resources, no matter how valuable and well-funded, for their own personal reasons. As such, a community-based lifeline is needed to fill this gap.

Helpline Center 211 currently serves 63% of all South Dakota residents. As a Change Agent in the state of South Dakota, it is my intention to advocate for access to Helpline Center 211 for ALL South Dakota residents. Such access would fill the communication gap for veterans, service members, and their families living in rural areas.