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.
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