This collection brings together valuable insights from nonprofit organizations, foundations, and government agencies that work directly with veterans in communities across the country. The works collected here provide a deeper understanding of the problems many veterans and their families face and also potential solutions to address these very real challenges. The collection is broken into five key areas where veterans are facing obstacles and where nonprofits and foundations have been focusing their efforts.

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"Soldiers" by Adam Baker licensed under CC NC 2.0

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Needs Assessment: Veterans in Southwest Pennsylvania

November 17, 2015

This assessment by the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) finds that Southwest Pennsylvania veterans are struggling with issues pertaining to education, access to benefits and economic security immediately after leaving military service. It also finds that the region's 235,000 veterans differ dramatically in how they feel about veterans benefits and their own well-being depending on whether they served before 9/11 or after. This mixed methods study provides a comprehensive portrait of veterans in Southwest Pennsylvania, one of the nation's largest and densest veterans communities. CNAS researchers used cutting-edge analytical tools from the Veterans Data Project to better understand the population, leveraging public data sets made available by DoD, VA, and the Census Bureau to understand macro-level trends in the area. In addition to this data, the CNAS team conducted interviews and working group discussions with individuals representing more than 50 public, private and nonprofit sector organizations serving veterans in the region, and conducted surveys of area veterans as well.

Education & Employment; Health & Well-being

Supporting Our Region's Veterans: Assessing the Network of Services Available for Post 9/11 Veterans and Their Families in Northern Virginia

May 7, 2014

Just across the river from our nation's capital, NOVA is home to countless icons representing the history of warfare in the United States and the sacrifices that have been made for our freedoms. From Arlington National Cemetery, to the Marine Corps War Memorial, to the United States Air Force Memorial, to the 9/11 Pentagon Memorial, to the Pentagon itself, these landmarks draw millions of visitors each year and provide places for Americans to publicly mourn, celebrate, and remember our service men and women. Less public, however, are the thousands of veterans and their families living in NOVA and the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area who are restarting their civilian lives after serving multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. According to the US Census Bureau's American Community Survey (ACS), NOVA is home more 35,000 that have served since 2001. Indeed, Virginia has the highest Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation Enduring Freedom (OIF/OEF) veteran ratio of all 50 states.Dozens of local organizations have risen to the challenge of supporting NOVA's post-9/11 veterans. These organizations deliver a range of interventions from financial counseling, to job training, to mental health services. It is clear that a wide array of support is available. What is less clear is exactly what those needs are and how local organizations are working collectively to address them. In an effort to better understand this landscape, the Community Foundation -- in partnership with the United Way of the National Capital Area and with the support of Deloitte -- developed this report to gain a more in-depth understanding of NOVA's veteran support landscape. This report is intended to provide the Community Foundation and other local community-based organizations with the insights needed to strategically target and coordinate grant dollars toward the greatest needs

Education & Employment; Funding, Strategy, & Evaluation; Health & Well-being

Military Spouse Employment Report

February 1, 2014

According to data from the Department of Defense (DoD) Defense Manpower Data Center (DMDC), there were approximately 725,877 spouses of DoD Active Duty members and approximately 413,295 spouses of Reserve and Guard members in 2010. According to the Veterans Administration's (VA) 2010 National Survey of Veterans, it is estimated that there are more than 15 million veterans' spouses in the United States and more than 5.8 million surviving spouses of veterans in the U.S. Studies by RAND (2004) have shown that female Armed Forces spouses are employed at lower rates and earn less than female civilian spouses, on average. Female civilian spouses with the same characteristics as female Armed Forces spouses have better employment outcomes than the average female Armed Forces spouse. RAND (2004) has also shown that female Armed Forces spouses are employed at lower rates and earn less than female civilian spouses, on average. In this study, the majority of Armed Forces spouses believe that the military lifestyle -- including frequent moves, deployments, living in areas with poor local labor market conditions, and long hours that keep service members from assisting with parenting -- has negatively affected their employment opportunities. Almost half believe that their educational opportunities have suffered. Armed Forces spouses work for different reasons, based on their own education level, their service member's pay grade, and their financial situation. Another study by the Department of the Treasury and the DoD (2012), using data from 2008 DMDC survey, found that nearly 35 percent of Armed Forces spouses in the labor force require licenses or certification for their profession, and that Armed Forces spouses are ten times more likely to have moved across state lines in the last year compared to their civilian counterparts, further complicating this need for licensing or certification. The overarching objective of this research project was to evaluate the cumulative economic impact on Armed Forces spouses who may be unable to sustain employment due to Permanent Change of Station (PCS) moves, licensure constraints, and lack of career enhancing opportunities. This research project contributes to a body of knowledge that provides policy makers with the information necessary to pool resources for military families and spouses, in order to increase the spouses' chances of obtaining steady employment, earning wages equivalent to those of their civilian peers, and advancing along professional career paths in spite of PCS moves. This research effort will benefit society at large through expanding the knowledge base of challenges for working spouses and working parents and will identify areas for improvement in public policy that can benefit working families. This research will drive new policies and initiatives that will provide benefits to all military spouses and families by providing them with resources to overcome the economic challenges of pursuing a career as a military spouse or a military spouse with children.

Education & Employment

Denying Credit: The Failure to Transition Troops to Civilian Employment

December 23, 2013

Since September 11, 2001, more than 2.5 million veterans have served in Iraq, Afghanistan, or both ("Gulf War II veterans"). It is widely recognized that securing meaningful employment is one of the most important factors determining the success of each veteran's return to civilian life, influencing not only household income but also the physical and psychological health of these veterans and their families. Promoting veteran employment should thus be a top national priority, a measure o the country's support and respect for military service. And promoting veteran employment should be easy, because many veterans separate from service with significant military training and experience relevant to jobs in the civilian labor market. Yet, despite their marketable skills, Gulf War II veterans are unemployed at rates higher than those of the labor force overall.One substantial obstacle to the employment of veterans is the failure of federal, state, and local licensing authorities to credit military training and experience in granting occupational and professional licenses. This failure can compel veterans to spend months or years in classes and apprenticeship programs waiting for licenses and certifications for which their military training and experience should already have qualified them. In addition to military-civilian collaboration failures within the current licensing regime, certain Gulf War II veterans also suffer employment difficulty beyond licensing, because the occupations related to the licenses for which they may qualify either pay low wages or face anemic growth over the next decade. These veterans could benefit from targeted efforts at further training or education. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) knows where most Gulf War II veterans reside, and the U.S. Department of Labor (DoL) knows the labor market conditions in those areas with high concentrations of veterans. But, at a national level, information regarding the military training and experience (referred to as Military Occupational Specialty, or "MOS") of Gulf War II veterans is held only by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), which has refused to make it public. And although the DoD has created its own Military Credentialing and Licensing Task Force, it has thus far focused on only a limited number of MOSes instead of providing complete data to aid lawmakers responsible for reintegrating the millions of service members who were once under the charge of the DoD. This lack of data frustrates policymakers' efforts to determine which licensing regimes might be reformed so as to maximize opportunities for veterans to secure licenses, and to tailor training and education programs for those veterans whose military skill sets are applicable only to low-wage or low-growth jobs. To overcome the DoD's failure to disclose national MOS data, this report looked to an alternative source -- a random sample of the MOS data voluntarily provided to the Connecticut Department of Veterans Affairs by Gulf War II veterans. Using this sample, the Connecticut Veterans Legal Center (CVLC) has produced the first study of its kind: one in which MOS data can be compared to local labor market conditions and state licensing requirements. This report thus identifies those licenses that align with the military training and experience of the largest number of Gulf War II veterans in Connecticut, and then compares those to DoL estimates of current and future labor market conditions. The result is a mapping of licensing regimes policymakers should reform to credit military service and best promote veteran employment. Further, to the extent the Connecticut population of Gulf War II veterans is representative of the nation as a whole, and that local labor market conditions and licensing requirements are comparable to those elsewhere in the country, the conclusions of this report will have national implications. Conversely, if Connecticut's Gulf War II veterans are not representative, or labor market conditions and licensing requirements vary, this study evidences the need to undertake comparable investigations in other states, and for the DoD to cease withholding MOS data that could aid policymakers in better promoting veteran employment nationally.

Education & Employment

Understanding the Cost and Quality of Military-Related Education Benefit Programs, Summary

December 23, 2013

Since the 1944 passage of the original GI Bill following World War II, the military has provided veterans with a collection of financial aid benefits designed to help them attend college. While research has shown that these programs have helped many veterans acquire a college education, less is known about the impact of more recent educational benefits for veterans. This is especially true of the Post-9/11 GI Bill, which, in conjunction with a number of other assistance programs, has afforded veterans new educational opportunities. The Post-9/11 GI Bill offers tuition subsidies paid directly to institutions, a housing allowance tied to cost of living, and a book stipend, which in combination are usually more generous than preceding GI Bills. However, issues such as rising tuition costs; an increasing presence of low-quality, for-profit institutions that target veterans; and a potentially confusing array of benefit options could mitigate the impact of these programs on the recruitment, retention, and human capital development of service members. This report contextualizes these issues and formulates a research agenda to address them.

Education & Employment

Student Veterans/Service Members' Engagement in College and University Life and Education

December 1, 2013

Since the passage of the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008, also known as the Post-9/11 GI Bill, the enrollment of active-duty service members and veterans in American colleges and universities has increased substantially. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, more than three-quarters of a million veterans have used their earned benefit to enroll in postsecondary courses. In response to the influx of veteran student enrollment, a group of higher education associations and veterans' organizations collaborated in 2009 and 2012 on a study that asked college and university administrators whether their institutions had geared up campus programs and services specifically designed to support the unique needs of veterans.1 The results indicated that administrators had indeed increased support levels, sometimes by quite significant margins.But how do student veterans/service members perceive their experiences at higher education institutions? To date, there is little or no information to assess whether the efforts by institutions to provide targeted programs and services are helpful to the veterans and service members enrolled in colleges and universities. Similarly, not much is known about the transition to postsecondary education from military service experienced by student veterans/service members, or whether these students are engaged in both academic programs and college and university life to their fullest potential. In this context, this issue brief explores student veteran/service member engagement in postsecondary education. The brief utilizes data from the 2012 National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), an annual survey of students enrolled in four-year universities, to assess how student veterans/service members perceive their integration on campus.A key finding is that student veterans/servicemembers are selective about the campus life and academic activities in which they invest their time. Student veterans/service members are morelikely to be first-generation students -- the first in their families to attend a college or university -- and older than nonveteran/civilian students; they therefore tend to have responsibilities outside of higher education that put constraints on their time.Student veterans/service members report placing greater emphasis on academic areas that they find essential for academic progress than on college and university life and activities -- academic or otherwise -- that are not essential for success in the courses in which they are enrolled. Student veterans/ service members are less likely to participate in co curricular activities, and they dedicate less time to relaxing and socializing than nonveteran/ civilian students.

Education & Employment

Veterans Talent Index: Insights and Analysis from Veteran Professionals, Recruiters and Hiring Managers

November 1, 2013

This report provides an insightful look at our nation's newest group of veterans, referred to as Gulf Era II veterans, the Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, and Post 9/11 veterans. This unique group of veterans is facing unprecedented challenges as hundreds of thousands are leaving the military and entering the civilian workforce each year.Two years ago, Monster and Military.com launched the Veterans Talent Index in order to provide an ongoing and quantifiable metric of employment conditions for the transitioning veteran job seekers and the employers hiring them. Twice a year, groups of these specific seekers and employers are surveyed; this report marks the fifth survey.Since these indices were established two years ago, the efforts by both private and public organizations to employ veterans have grown. The government has stepped in with business tax credits and special employment laws to encourage hiring as well as to restore jobs for those who left to serve in the military. In 2011, the President challenged the private sector to hire and train 100,000 veterans and military spouses; by August 2012, this goal had been surpassed and by April 2013 U.S. businesses had hired or trained 290,000 veterans and military spouses. Private sector companies are working together to share best practices on recruiting, retaining and supporting veterans and specialized associations are developing online tools, transition programs and training programs to enable veterans.

Education & Employment

Helping Veterans Return to Work: Best Practices for Behavioral Health Practitioners

October 1, 2013

Since 2001, more than 2.6 million troops have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. Their reintegration back into civilian society can often be met with difficult transitions, such as depression, relationships, health challenges, and unemployment. Alone, they are unique struggles to overcome, but, as is often the case, many of these challenges overlap and can have an adverse impact on a veteran's functioning and quality of life.Securing gainful employment has been seen as a key goal to a successful transition from military to civilian life, not just for the financial stability it creates for the veteran, but also for the social secondary benefits it engenders for the veteran and the community at large. Veterans are leaving a military culture that promotes unit cohesion, leadership and mentorship. In the civilian workplace, veterans are looking for teamwork, structured work schedules, and social activities, all of which can promote a successful transition and improve their quality of life and well-being.Nonetheless, despite numerous efforts and recent gains, the unemployment rate for post- 9/11 veterans remains stubbornly high. According to the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, in August 2013 the jobless rate for this population rose to 10 percent, almost 3 percentage points higher than the national rate. Obstacles persist in both (a) preparing veterans for careers outside the military and (b) educating civilian employers about the strengths and challenges facing veteran workers. A coordinated approach to increase communications will help bridge that knowledge gap and, hopefully, go a long way toward increasing the employment rate among veterans, who have a lot to offer their communities.

Education & Employment; Health & Well-being

America's Veterans: A Sound Investment

September 1, 2013

In this report, the authors argue that society should leverage the latest generation of men and women leaving the military, and the skills, expertise and experience they bring to the civilian workforce. The authors examine the employment challenges facing the nation's nearly 2.6 million post-9/11 combat veterans as they transition to civilian jobs. They note that recent veterans "have struggled with unemployment rates that exceed the national average" despite recent survey findings that showed "most managers felt that military veterans were "better" or "much better" than civilians in areas such as teamwork, reliability, openness to other cultures and races, and work ethic." General Caldwell and Major Burke knock down several stereotypes about recent veterans and offer recommendations that business and government can undertake to help veterans successfully navigate the civilian labor market.

Education & Employment

Academic Recognition of Military Experience in STEM Education

June 1, 2013

Recent calls for increases in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education attainment and veterans' education success have created a platform for examining how veterans with military experience in STEM fields can more efficiently complete postsecondary education and training.The American Council on Education (ACE) military evaluation program provides credit recommendations for military courses that align servicemembers' training with postsecondary curricula and competencies. These recommendations,if accepted as transfer credit, can decrease the time it takes servicemembers and veterans to complete STEM certificates and degrees.Numerous challenges exist in considering military credit recommendations for postsecondary courses and degrees. The process is complex, requiring an acute understanding of military transcripts and the resources and tools available to assist institutions of higher education in awarding credit for military training. Additionally, misinformation and lack of awareness regarding the content, scope, and rigor of the ACE review process and resulting credit recommendations create resistance to awarding credit.Successfully increasing acceptance of military credit recommendations at institutions of higher education can be achievedthrough public-private partnerships between colleges and universities, federal agencies, workforce development experts, and other key stakeholders using available resources and tools to build degree pathways that accurately map military training to STEM courses.An education campaign about the ACE review process and the value of the resulting credit recommendations will also help eliminate the stigma surrounding credit awarded for prior learning, and boost support among leaders and institutions for increased acceptance of military credit recommendations. This approach will lead to the developmentof best practices and, ultimately, increases in both STEM attainment and veterans' education success.

Education & Employment

Investing In Veterans: The Need for Career and Education Advising

February 6, 2013

Federal education benefits for veterans represent a substantial investment -- $18 billion since 2009 under the Post-9/11 GI Bill -- in the development of a skilled American workforce. Unfortunately, this investment does not always pay off because many veterans encounter serious obstacles as they attempt to navigate the difficult terrain of the higher education system and the labor market. Access to career and education advising programs would enable more veterans to successfully complete degrees and to pursue satisfying careers.This paper surveys the career and education advising options currently available to veterans via military reintegration programs, web-based resources, non-profit service providers, and colleges and universities. It concludes that additionalm career and education advising resources are needed -- especially those available to veterans prior to enrollment in postsecondary institutions -- to ensure that veterans are able to take full advantage of their federal education benefits. This paper offers specific recommendations for helping veterans make informed choices about how to use their education benefits at each stage of the transition process.

Education & Employment

Learning about America's Best: Resources on Educating, Training, and Hiring Returning Veterans and Service Members

January 26, 2013

This document provides a quick list of some of the many books, articles, and web sites that offer information for educators, trainers, employers, service members, veterans, and family members. It is part of a series of materials written to address the growing need for information and ideas that can help our nation's schools, training organizations, and workplaces make a welcoming, productive, and satisfying place for returning veterans and transitioning service members.

Education & Employment