Identifying Critical Unmet Needs
The most comprehensive and definitive studies on issues facing today’s veteran are found in research projects undertaken by The University of Southern California’s Center for Innovation and Research on Veterans & Military Families and three San Antonio focus groups consisting of 76 active duty military and veterans.
These two academic reports and focus groups revealed the following:
- Over 65% of today’s veterans reported difficulties adjusting to civilian life, and do not know where to go or who to contact for help.
- Over 50% of veterans report a significant physical or mental health issue for which they are not receiving care.
- Many service members leaving the military are not prepared for the transition. Today’s veterans have very strong personal and military identities that, while desirable during their service, can interfere with a successful civilian transition.
- Nearly 80% of service members leave the military without jobs, expecting to quickly find meaningful employment that provides an adequate salary once they leave the military.Over 75% of veterans without jobs are not receiving assistance in finding employment.
- Nearly 60% of service members leave the military without having made arrangements for a stable and permanent place to live.
- Veterans have a wide range of needs (employment, healthcare, mental health, housing, education, etc.) that cannot be easily provided by a single organization. When a veteran is faced with an issue, it is almost always multi-dimensional, requiring support from a number of different agencies.
- Veteran support organizations are not organized to provide holistic support to veterans.
- Most veteran support organizations are focused on assisting veterans who are already in crisis, whether it be homelessness, severe health issues or chronic unemployment. Very little attention is given to preventing these conditions. In the vast majority of instances, by the time a veteran support agency or nonprofit interacts with the veteran, they are already in crisis. As a result, support to the veteran is most often reactive.
- Veterans require daily access to fitness centers, along with opportunities to participate in competitive and recreational sports as an integral part of their physical and emotional rehabilitation.
- The support of families and caregivers is an essential element in the veteran’s successful transition back into civilian life.