Clearinghouse Releases Veteran Needs Report

Approximately 20 million veterans currently live in the United States. While the overall veteran population is expected to decrease, the diversity of the remaining group is expected to increase in the coming years.

The Clearinghouse for Military Family Readiness at Penn State has just released “Supporting United States Veterans: A review of veteran-focused needs assessments from 2008-2017.” The report reviewed veterans needs assessments from the past decade and identified the most common needs to include: mental health, physical health and well-being, employment, housing, transportation, financial literacy, and social support. Identified barriers that decrease access to services include awareness, eligibility, and transportation; delays and excessive paperwork; perceived low quality; concerns regarding stigma and lack of confidentiality; and lack of tailored services for diverse veteran groups such as women, minorities, students, etc.

According to Daniel Perkins, principal scientist and founder of the Clearinghouse, and a professor of youth and family resiliency and policy in the College of Agricultural Sciences, “Most of these needs assessments have focused on a particular geographic region of the United States; thus, the purpose of this report was to identify the common needs found regardless of where veterans are living.” Moreover, Perkins notes that “These assessments suggest that most veterans experience a variety of positive outcomes and are doing relatively well in terms of general well-being, substance use patterns, employment outcomes, and income.” Nevertheless, the report also indicates areas of challenge for a significant minority of veterans.

Based on these findings, the Clearinghouse offers several recommendations to better support veterans. In addition, it is noted that veterans benefit when their families are supported. To this end, recommendations include focusing on mental health—but not at the expense of other issues such as stigma and transportation, aiding with employment and housing, and building a stronger support network with services and community-based groups that provide opportunities for both veterans and their family members.

Finally, the Clearinghouse stresses the importance of providing specialized services for various veteran subgroup needs. These include: providing tailored VA services for women, designating services to help veterans from racial and ethnic minority groups, providing better services for student veterans to help navigate GI Bill benefits, and offering services in rural areas or providing transportation support when options are not widely available.

Since its inception in 2010, the Clearinghouse for Military Family Readiness, part of the Social Science Research Institute, has provided professionals who deliver direct assistance to military families with information to help identify, select, develop, and implement evidence-based programs and practices to improve the well-being of service members and their families.