Jim Lorraine, the new executive director of the CSRA Wounded Warrior Care Project, wants the federal government to be better for the sake of the American veteran.
A Department of Veterans Affairs and a Department of Defense that are better coordinated and more active in reaching out to veterans can help ease the difficult transition from the military back into civilian life. Lorraine said as much last week when he testified before the U.S. Senate's Veterans Affairs Committee in Washington.
"My point to the Senate was, when you are in the military and you move from a base, to a base, to a base, you get a sponsor -- somebody at your destination who you can call and say, 'Where should I live? Where should my kids go to school?' " Lorraine said. "We do all this all the way up until we get out and then it ends."
After a month on the job, Lorraine said he plans to continue growing the "phenomenal" community support that the project's founder and former leader, Laurie Ott, began.
"I think there is a great opportunity to bring different departments of the government together to do great things," he said.
Lorraine comes to the area from Tampa, Fla., where he worked as the director of the U.S. SOCOM Care Coalition, an organization that advocates for wounded, ill or injured special operations forces and their families. Lorraine is a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel who worked closely with special operations units during his 22 years of service.
He was already moving to the area with his wife when Ott approached him about taking over the position.
"So it was perfect timing," he said.
When Lorraine traveled to Washington to testify, he told senators on the committee that any decreases in spending that could affect veterans will have to be made up by aid from the local communities, so it is important that on the national level, those organizations work harder to identify and reach out to young veterans.
With so many options available to reach people -- such as Facebook and other social media -- Lorraine said it was "crazy" that hundreds of thousands of veterans simply go back home with no ties to the VA.
He cited his own experience of leaving the military as an example.
"I just assumed when I got out that I was signed up," Lorraine said. "I was missing out on not only benefits but health care and a bunch of other things. And if it happened to me, it's going to really happen to a young corporal that just gets out."
He envisions the Wounded Warrior Care Project as the organization that will continue to be the support for those men and women.
"They say it's not what you know, but who you know," Lorraine said. "I want to be the organization that is the 'who you know.' "