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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Arts Deployed: An Action Guide for Community Arts & Military Programming

February 1, 2017

A collaboration between AFTA's National Initiative on Arts & Health and the Military and the Local Arts Advancement departments, Arts Deployed is a guide for arts organizations and artists interested in bringing creative arts programming to military and Veteran communities, their caregivers, and families.  The guide helps local arts organizations and artists understand their unique roles in serving the military and Veteran communities; details the expansive benefits the arts have on the health and well-being of these communities; and lays the groundwork—step-by-step, from establishing fruitful partnerships with the military and Veteran sector, through funding and promotion—for arts organizations and artists to build their own creative arts initiative for their local military and/or Veteran communities.   Arts Deployed also breaks down three current program models—The Veterans History Project, The National Veterans Creative Arts Festival, and the Living History Veterans Project—so that these programs can be replicated in any community.   Rich with examples of current local arts programming throughout the U.S. —including The Oklahoma Arts and Military Initiative, California Arts Council's Veterans Initiative in the Arts, and Colorado's Fine Arts Center's Military & the Arts Program, among others—Arts Deployed also offers a directory of arts and military national touring performances, exhibitions, and writing workshops that can be brought to any community.   Arts Deployed honors the highly effective and robust arts and military programs that exist all across the country and seeks to help close a critical gap, as the demand for these services far exceeds their number. With the proper motivation, training, connection to information and resources, and access to partners in the military and Veteran communities, local arts organizations and artists can make a powerful difference.

Health & Well-being

Health of Those Who Have Served Report 2016, Executive Summary

November 1, 2016

United Health Foundation is committed to helping communities across the country understand the similarities and differences between the health of those who have served and those who have not served (hereafter referred to as "civilians" for the purposes of this document). America's Health Rankings Health of Those Who Have Served Report reflects United Health Foundation's commitment to offering data-driven insights that can stimulate dialogue and action that continues to advance the health of those who have served, and builds upon the United Health Foundation's philanthropic initiatives to support members of the U.S. Armed Forces, veterans, and their families across the country.America's Health Rankings, in partnership with Military Officers Association of America (MOAA), collaborated with an advisory steering group of leading military and veterans and public health organizations to develop a holistic study of the health of those who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces compared with the health of civilians. The report establishes a baseline portrait of the health of those who have served, analyzing 24 health measures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS)–the world's largest, annual population-based telephone survey of more than 400,000 people.

Health & Well-being

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

Fixing Veterans Health Care: A Bipartisan Policy Taskforce

February 23, 2015

The Concerned Veterans for America convened the Fixing Veterans Health Care Taskforce with the mission of isolating existing challenges to veterans' health care, identifying systemic solutions, and proposing concrete reforms that would improve health care delivery for our nation's veterans. It is the hope of CVA that the recommendations made in this report will dramatically improve health care access, timeliness, and outcomes for eligible veterans

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

Study on Children of Seriously Wounded Service Members

March 18, 2014

This study was conducted to better understand the needs of children of service members who have been seriously wounded in combat, as well as the programs and services that support these children and families.

Family & Community Reintegration; Health & Well-being

2012-13 Report of the Department of Veterans Affairs Gulf War Veterans? Illnesses Task Force to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs

January 1, 2014

The Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses Task Force (GWVI-TF) was formed to ensure that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) maintains a focus on the unique health issues faced by Veterans of the 1990-1991 Gulf War (Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm). The Persian Gulf War is legally defined in title 38 United States Code (U.S.C.) § 101(33) as beginning on August 2, 1990, and ending on the date thereafter prescribed by Presidential proclamation or by law. Although the term "Gulf War Veterans" could refer to all Veterans of conflicts during this period, including Veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom, and subsequent conflicts, the GWVI-TF target population is Veterans who were deployed on the Operation Desert Shield and/or Operation Desert Storm components of the 1990-1991 Gulf War, hereafter referred to as Gulf War Veterans. In August 2009, the Secretary of VA directed a comprehensive review of VA's programs to support this population of Veterans with the goal of developing an overarching action plan to advance their services, and ultimately improving their satisfaction with the quality of services and support that VA provides. This is GWVI-TF's third annual report and is intended to document VA's roadmap for achieving these goals and the concrete actions that VA has taken to improve care and services to Gulf War Veterans. The work of GWVI-TF continues to be based on a premise that the efforts are part of the core VA mission "to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow, and his orphan."

Health & Well-being

Expanding the Net: Building Mental Health Care Capacity for Veterans

November 11, 2013

In this brief, Senior Fellow Phillip Carter calls upon the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to expand its mental health care resources to meet the growing needs of veterans across the country. Although the VA will spend nearly $7 billion this year on mental health care for veterans, Mr. Carter argues that this is not likely to be enough. The report urges the VA to rely more on the private sector and work more closely with local community and private philanthropic organizations.

Health & Well-being

Battle for Benefits: VA Discrimination Against Survivors of Military Sexual Trauma

November 1, 2013

Sexual assault and harassment are serious problems in the United States armed forces that threaten the strength, readiness, and morale of the military, undermine national security, and have devastating personal effects on survivors and their families. Less well known is the second battle that many veterans who survive sexual violence must fight with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) when they return to civilian life. The process of obtaining VA disability benefits for the enduring mental health effects of military sexual trauma (MST) is an unfair fight in which veterans are often unsuccessful. They face a broken bureaucracy, with protracted delays and inaccurate adjudications. And based on records that VA has withheld until now, it is clear that veterans who survive in-service sexual trauma also face discrimination in seeking compensation. This report presents the first opportunity for veterans, policy-makers, and the public to examine in detail the experiences of MST survivors as they seek compensation from VA. It is based on data provided by VA in settlement of two Freedom of Information Act lawsuits. The lawsuits were brought by the Service Women's Action Network, ACLU Women's Rights Project, and the ACLU of Connecticut, with the Veterans Legal Services Clinic at Yale Law School serving as lead counsel. As a result of these settlements, VA handed over never-before-released data on mental health disability benefit claims filed by veterans suffering from the aftermath of rape, sexual assault, and sexual harassment. These data offer a close look at the enduring health consequences and bureaucratic battles that survivors of in-service3 sexual trauma face as they transition back to civilian life. Notably, the data reveal that VA has granted disability claims for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) caused by in-service sexual trauma at significantly lower rates than it has granted claims for PTSD arising from other causes. Moreover, the data also reveal dramatic variation among VA regional offices in the treatment of MST-related mental health claims and disparate treatment by gender.

Health & Well-being

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

Arts, Health and Well-Being across the Military Continuum

September 11, 2013

Is there an active, meaningful role for the arts and creative arts therapies in addressing this vast array of critical human readiness issues across the military continuum? In general, "readiness" is the #1 issue for the military at all times. The connection of the arts to the human dimension of readiness is key. Military leaders say we need every weapon in our arsenal to meet the many challenges we face today. However, one of the most powerful tools we have in our arsenal -- the arts -- is often under-utilized and not well understood within the military and the healthcare system. The arts and creative arts therapists are -- and have been -- a part of military tradition and missions across all branches, supporting military health services, wellness, and mission readiness, including family support. For example, the War Department ordered the use of music in rehabilitation for the war wounded in World War II. In June 1945, the Department of War issued "Technical Bulletin 187: Music in Reconditioning in American Service Convalescent and General Hospitals." This bulletin was a catalyst for the growth and development of music therapy being used as a rehabilitative service for active duty service members and veterans alike during and after WWII. Although many gaps exist in our knowledge regarding the arts in military settings, what we do know to date holds great promise for powerful outcomes for our service members, veterans, their families, and the individuals who care for them. Today, a growing number of members of the public and private sectors are eager to collaborate with military leaders to help make these outcomes a reality.Nowhere was the momentum for greater collaboration more evident than in October 2011, when the first National Summit: Arts in Healing for Warriors was held at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (now referred to as Walter Reed Bethesda) and the National Intrepid Center of Excellence (NICoE). Rear Admiral Alton L. Stocks, Commander of Walter Reed Bethesda, hosted the National Summit, in partnership with a national planning group of military, government, and nonprofit leaders. The 2011 Summit marked the first time various branches of the military collaborated with civilian agencies to discuss how engaging with the arts provides opportunities to meet the key health issues our military faces -- from pre-deployment to deployment to homecoming.Building upon its success, a multi-year National Initiative for Arts & Health in the Military was established in 2012, with the advice and guidance of federal agency, military, nonprofit, and private sector partners (see Figure 2). The National Initiative for Arts & Health in the Military (National Initiative) represents an unprecedented military/civilian collaborative effort whose mission is to "advance the arts in health, healing, and healthcare for military service members, veterans, their families, and caregivers."Members of the National Initiative share a commitment to optimize health and wellness, with a deep understanding and awareness that the arts offer a unique and powerful doorway into healing in ways that many conventional medical approaches do not. The Initiative's goals include working across military, government, private, and nonprofit sectors to: 1. Advance the policy, practice, and quality use of arts and creativity as tools for health in the military; 2. Raise visibility, understanding, and support of arts and health in the military; and 3. Make the arts as tools for health available to all active duty military, medical staff, family members, and veterans.

Health & Well-being

The Role and Importance of the 'D' in PTSD

August 16, 2013

Recently, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) board of trustees voted on changes to the new edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Among the decisions was one to retain the word "disorder" in the term "posttraumatic stress disorder." U.S. Army leadership initially requested a change in terminology, stating that the word "disorder" is stigmatizing and that removing it would encourage more individuals suffering from symptoms to access care. Although the APA has issued its ruling, the term "posttraumatic stress" is being used informally by some individuals within military communities. It is unclear whether informal use of the term will continue, or whether military leaders will continue to advocate future changes to the DSM. RAND explored the rationales for not changing the diagnostic terminology, and to the extent possible, anticipated what the effects of widespread informal use of new terminology might be.

Health & Well-being