January 2015

Veterans and Community Development

As they take on a diverse range of roles and responsibilities in returning to civilian life, American veterans demonstrate that their commitment to service is not shorn away when they step out of their uniforms. They are important assets in our neighborhoods and offices and invaluable resources for one another. Yet recent statistics and surveys of veterans make it clear that the journey from service member to civilian is stacked with multiple complex challenges, and too many veterans are not receiving the services and support they need to fully readjust to life outside the military. Veterans of all generations, but particularly younger veterans of recent conflicts, often struggle to find employment, access adequate health care and educational opportunities, maintain stable housing, and secure their household finances. While veterans note that they appreciate the supportive sentiment of the public toward their service, some say they are uncertain that American civilians understand the extent of the issues with which they are grappling, and point out that there is great need for assistance from veterans’ service providers, employers, higher education institutions, and community members.

In this issue of Community Investments, we look into some of the reasons why we are seeing a degree of disconnection between what veterans need and the resources available to them. As we consider how the public can address these missing links, this issue’s articles provide evidence from local initiatives demonstrating effective ways for communities to recognize, support, and collaborate with veterans in the arenas of employment, housing, education, and financial stability. Many of the efforts presented here also highlight the ways in which veterans themselves are serving and supporting their fellow veterans and their broader communities.

Read the full issue (pdf, 1.42 mb)

Table of Contents

The Next Mission: American Veterans and the Transition Back to Civilian Communities

Who are American veterans, what are their concerns and challenges in returning to civilian life, and what do communities need to know about veterans to effectively work with them and on their behalf?

New Challenges for New Veterans: Leveraging Community Assets to Support Returning Service Members

A Q&A discussion with the executive vice president for veterans’ affairs and chief medical officer of Volunteers of America Greater Los Angeles, about the health, social, and economic challenges veterans face.

Nevada’s Green Zone Initiative: A Comprehensive Systems Approach to the Challenges Facing America’s Veterans

A statewide veterans’ initiative in Nevada links service providers, veterans, elected officials, and community members to better reintegrate veterans into civilian environments, connect veterans to one another, and inform policy around veterans issues.

Taking the Next Step as a Student Veteran Helping Other Student Veterans

A Q&A with a young veteran about his experience as a student veteran and his current work assisting other student veterans.

Solving Veteran Homelessness as One in California

California housing developers, veterans’ service providers, and policy makers work together to decrease veteran homeless in Los Angeles.

Starting a Business as a Veteran Entrepreneur After Service

A Q&A with a young veteran entrepreneur farmer about the benefits and challenges of starting a business as a veteran.

Why Financial Literacy Matters After Returning Home from War: Reducing Veteran Homelessness by Improving Money Management

What is the connection between physical and mental well-being and financial health for veterans and their families?

Student Veterans in Higher Education: A Transitional Challenge

Colleges and universities play an important role in helping veterans return to civilian life prepared for the current job market.

Veterans Giving Back to Their Communities: The Importance of Getting Involved

A Q&A with a young veteran about how community service and volunteer work can help veterans readjust to life in a civilian environment, strengthen ties between veterans, and give veterans outlets for their drive to serve their communities.

Notes from the Frontlines in the Small Business Finance Revolution: A Microlender’s View

What happens when small businesses are increasingly funded by lenders outside the financial mainstream?

Data Snapshot

Veterans in the 12th District.