An organization run by a veteran of the Iraq war launched a new website Monday to provide a centralized online destination for veteran services in Western Pennsylvania.
Checkpoint, started by Army veteran Jared Souder, is designed to streamline access to various community services available for veterans.
"We want to be the easiest place to go for veterans," said Mr. Souder, 34, formerly director of Veterans Place, a nonprofit on Washington Boulevard that helps homeless vets. "I always felt like, as the director of Veterans Place, that I wanted to know what everyone else was doing."
Western Pennsylvania is home to some 220,000 veterans. But unlike other metro areas with a similar concentration, such as San Diego or San Antonio, it doesn't have a big military base to provide consolidated access to veterans' support networks that military families depend on.
Mr. Souder said his website will help fill that gap and provide a "uniting voice" for the region.
If a military family is in need of, say, day care for children while someone is deployed, the site will provide the necessary contacts. The same would apply for any number of services, from Veterans Affairs benefits to substance abuse programs.
In addition, veterans can sign up to provide peer reviews on the site so other veterans can assess services.
Mr. Souder, a Chester, W.Va., native and Moon resident who saw combat in Iraq with the 4th Infantry Division, left the Army in 2008 and earned his master of business administration degree at the University of Pittsburgh in 2010.
He had become director of Veterans Place the year before and later was part of a small group of local leaders and community representatives who created an information-sharing network of service providers in the region.
That effort gave him the idea for creating the Checkpoint site.
"The idea is to build off of the work I've been doing for the last four years," he said.
The organization's office will be at 700 River Ave. on the North Side, just off the North Shore Trail.
For more information: 724-492-8870 or TheCheckpoint.org.
Torsten Ove: email@example.com or 412-263-1510.