The Community Veterans Engagement Board (CVEB) of Western New York (WNY) helps Veterans through collaborations in academia, business, trade, not-for-profits and VA. The WNY CVEB ensures a continuum of care for Veterans and their families, providing quality education, gainful employment, and excellent health care for Veterans in the Buffalo, New York region.

Bob James, a member of the WNY CVEB and director of the Buffalo Blues, serves as the Chair of its Community Awareness Team. James organized two focus groups to assess local needs, and then built a website for its member network. When the pandemic stalled fundraising events for, the band ran a 9-week “Buffalo Blues Live Stream Concert Series” on Facebook, raising over $5,000 to fund the purchase of food cards for Veterans in urgent need.

The Buffalo Blues for Veterans team, working with the WNY CVEB, shared its operational plans with Tom Ronayne, co-chair of the Long Island CVEB, and Terry Finley of Clearpath for Vets, to discuss ways for other CVEBs to emulate WNY’s success.

The three leaders drew up a plan to bring in additional community partners from outside traditional military networks. It also cemented several partnerships with local VA hospitals and Vet Centers to provide public awareness on its suicide prevention efforts. They hope to improve cultural competency and deliver outreach to rural communities through town halls and the Community Clergy Training Program (CCTP).

What is a Community Veteran Engagement Board?

The Community Veterans Engagement Board (CVEB) enables Veterans, service members, military families, Veteran advocates, community service providers and stakeholders to have a collective voice in identifying their community goals. CVEBs work to resolve gaps in service at the local level to improve service delivery.

VA leaders are committed to actively engaging with community-based efforts that support local services and federal/state/municipal agencies that improve Veteran outcomes where they live, work and raise their families. 

The CVEB of Western New York’s initiatives focus on:  

  • Veteran suicide, homelessness, domestic violence and MST, and addiction services.
  • Access to health care, including medical health, behavioral health, and transportation.  
  • Education and workforce development.
  • Community awareness and access to CVEB.
  • Outreach to rural and female Veterans, and military families and transitioning service members.  

They WNY CVEB has successfully recruited over 60 Veteran community partners and approximately 100 active members that take intentional actions to serve as advocates for Veterans and their families in the Buffalo-NY region.

What can you do?

Become a Veteran’s mentor or advocate in your area. Participate in the monthly call and understand the gaps in services for Veterans, their families and caregivers. Need more information and want to find out more on existing communities or how to adopt the model in your community? Please email 


The sharing of any non-VA information does not constitute an endorsement of products and services on the part of VA.  

Bob James with Buffalo Blues and Marine Veteran Ted Wong, of the Veterans Experience Office, contributed to this story. 

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Published on Jun. 30, 2020

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