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"The State of the American Veteran: The San Francisco Veterans Study" by the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work Center for Innovation and Research on Veterans & Military Families (CIR) outlines the findings of a survey conducted 2016-17 of 722 veterans living in the San Francisco Bay Area. This comprehensive study of the military population represents the fourth overall—and third in the state of California. It explored numerous areas, such as transition challenges, employment and finances, housing, health and access to veteran services.Emerging as a theme across various studies is that veterans throughout the state and the nation encounter significant transition issues. The San Francisco Veterans Study highlights that separating service members are not being engaged effectively or early enough in their transition process.
In this policy brief, the authors discuss tackling the veteran homelessness problem holistically. More than providing housing, veteran policies must address the underlying causes of homelessness, which in many cases is a lack of preparation and awareness of the full spectrum of challenges associated with transitioning from military to civilian life.
Are we ready? Is our community ready? Is our country ready to honor the moral obligation to ensure that its veterans and their families receive the services promised to them when they enlisted and to completely address any injury, illness or other disparity created as a result of their service?There appears to be no end in sight to the ongoing stressors for military personnel and their families. The United States has been continuously at war for more than a decade with the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan the longest in our nation's history. Persistent instabilities in the Middle East, North Africa and Asia are likely to keep American forces engaged in combat operations for many years to come. The demanding operational tempo of two challenging combat theaters coupled with the nature of the nation's all-volunteer force, and the expanded involvement of military reservists has meant that many service members have been deployed multiple times since 2001, which in turn has brought family and community issues to the forefront and into the realm of veterans issues. It is apparent that psychological and personal stresses for service members and their families are more prevalent and widespread than previously understood. The transition from military to civilian life can be difficult and is not always negotiated successfully.We know that communities that successfully support their military-impacted populations are those that engage their entire citizenry in the unique challenges facing veterans transitioning home. Therefore, we need to create a coordinated community-based approach that brings together diverse sets of resources and identifies new opportunities across public and private sectors. It is unlikely that the needs of veterans and their families will be adequately addressed unless local, state and federal agencies join forces and work together with public and private nonprofit organizations that are providing services and care for them.
There are approximately 2.6 million men and women who have served in the U.S. military during the post-9/11 period and their transitions home after deployment often create a rollercoaster of mixed experiences. About 40 percent of the fighting and support services deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan are members of the National Guard and Reserve Forces who often return to civilian communities that are ill-prepared to accommodate their reintegration needs. This brief describes the Reintegration Partnership Project, which explored the transition process for California National Guard members and their families after Reintegration Skills Training (RST), an evidence-based problem-solving practice aimed at easing the challenges associated with transition from combat to civilian life. It also reports findings of a follow-up assessment of the reintegration experience for California National Guard members.
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.
Military families in the United States are facing enormous challenges. Since 2001, more than 2.6 million troops have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan and now face rates of suicide, depression, and unemployment that have sounded the alarm for action. Though there is wide community support for veterans and their families, the system is fragmented. There are a multitude of services available to the nation's veterans, but the disjointed nature of how they are provided by federal agencies, and a wide variety of state and community-based organizations makes it difficult for veterans and their families to navigate the systemand receive the services they need.The federally funded programs fluctuate based on presidential and congressional priorities and national emergencies. The landscape is dotted with nonprofit organizations, corporations, educational institutions, volunteer groups, public agencies and private foundations. Each provides an array of services or programs designed to meet specific needs of the United States' approximately 22 million veterans.A collaborative that builds on the strengths of the community can be the most effective solution to this fragmentation by combining resources, identifying promising programs and strategizing for collective impact. Innovation will not be made by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) alone. Nonprofits and community-based organizations have limited resources and focused scopes. Each operates in isolation. A model of public-private partnerships that brings together a diverse cross-sector of stakeholders has the potential to effect large-scale change.
This meeting was convened by the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Social Work Policy Institute (SWPI) in collaboration with supporting partner, the University of Southern California School of Social Work (USC) and its Center for Innovation and Research on Veterans and Military Families. This symposium was convened on June 12-13, 2013 as a catalyst for improving both policies and practices, and to explore the feasibility of promoting a national veterans policy. The more than 50 participants represented national organizations, government agencies, community service providers, foundations and universities. The participants had expertise in health, behavioral health and human service delivery systems and a large number of the participants were veterans, family members of veterans, or both.The symposium participants' diverse perspectives and experiences in agencies, organizations and universities helped to stimulate thinking about the policies that support our nation's veterans, and to look at how we can leverage what we already have, identify what changes are needed, and suggest how we can best balance federal, state and community roles, responsibilities and resources to enhance the well-being of our nation's veterans and their families.