A new study suggests that plenty of resources are available for veterans struggling in their post-miliary transition. However, there is poor coordination among the programs.
Produced by Syracuse University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families, the report advocates for a “collective impact” approach to solving the problem. That means communities working in partnership with the Department of Veterans Affairs, other government agencies and private industry.
The report says veterans as consumers should be able to find faster, more personalized and more simplified ways to navigate through different service providers without encountering the usual barriers.
Any failures in how things now work are not necessarily the result of a lack of resources.
Even with the $169 billion it spends annually, the VA shouldn’t be — and wasn’t intended to be — the answer for every aspect of a veteran’s well-being, the report argues.
“The VA was never designed to reintegrate veterans into civilian society, repair their existing social relationships, or build new ones in the communities in which they ultimately settle,” the report says.
The report found approximately 45,000 nonprofit organizations serving veterans and military families and tens of thousands more providing social services to the general public.
And, the report concludes, they are “largely going at it alone.”
The institute is in the midst of an experiment on the concept of collective impact: NYCServes, an 18-month project in New York City designed to make veterans services more coordinated and accessible through more than 40 providers of human services. Similar programs are being started in Charlotte, N.C., and Pittsburgh.
“The status quo and its barriers — fragmented, uncoordinated, and siloed approaches — demand the nation’s immediate attention if we are to improve the course of post-military life for our transitioning service members and their families,” the report concludes.