What the Experts Say

Author: Rachel Fulcher-Dawson

Every November, we hold Veterans Day to honor the commitment and courage embodied by our veterans. Both of my grandfathers served in WWII. I often think about that time where record numbers of young people volunteering to fight and record numbers of civilians taking on new work to support the effort meant every family was a “military family”.

My own family story goes like this—one grandfather served in the Merchant Marines in the Pacific Theater and the other in the Navy as a plumber on a navy fire boat. To our great fortune, both returned uninjured, but surely changed forever. Also to our great fortune, their service was followed by secure employment and stability. One, college degree in hand, became a successful salesman; the other, plumbing license in hand, ran his own plumbing business for decades.

Unfortunately, this is not the story for many families. About 200,000 veterans transition from active military duty to civilian life every year and the unique experiences that accompany military service can make this transition difficult. Obstacles surrounding housing, employment, and health make up a large portion of these struggles.

Several of LEO’s provider partners operate programs designed to address these barriers and improve outcomes for our vulnerable veterans. Let’s take a closer look at some of these organizations:

Based in Houston, Texas, the Combined Arms Organization acts as a single point of entry for military veterans and their families as they transition to civilian life, connecting them with a large network of services and community organizations that can support them. Veterans can access the Combined Arms network through a community-based online platform. The Combined Arms intake team also offers individualized guidance for veterans who need a more personal touch, serving as a point of connection between veterans and veteran assistance services. LEO’s study with Combined Arms aims to learn which service method results in more veterans accessing needed services.

In a different part of the lone star state is NPower. Based in Dallas, NPower works with veterans through job training and placement to create career pathways into the information technology industry. NPower’s Tech Fundamentals program is an intensive 23-week course that helps participants gain full-time employment in an information technology career. Over the first 16 weeks, students attend a tuition-free course that helps them earn industry-recognized certifications. Following that, they are immersed in the professional scene and receive a 7-week paid internship with one of NPower’s corporate partners. Post internship, students graduate from NPower and receive ongoing job-placement assistance. NPower is working with LEO to learn about the impact of NPower’s Tech Fundamentals program on the labor market and educational outcomes of veterans.

The Enduring Families program at the Recovery Resource Council (RRC) provides free outpatient counseling services for military veterans in the North Texas community. RRC provides individual psychotherapy sessions to help veterans work through the unique mental health challenges they face as a result of their service, such as PTSD, severe depression, and Traumatic Brain Injury. Though the number of counseling sessions vary according to the needs of individual veterans, most are prescribed between six and 18 sessions. LEO is partnered with RRC to study the impact of monetary incentives on improving attendance at counseling sessions and how these sessions benefit the veterans in need.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development collaborates with the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs to distribute Housing and Urban Development Veteran Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) vouchers to veterans in need. These vouchers provide permanent, stable housing to homeless veterans. LEO researchers conducted a study of the impact of these vouchers and found that for each voucher issued, the number of homeless veterans decreased by 1, and that the program was especially effective for veterans experiencing unsheltered homelessness—while 45% of the program’s reduction in homelessness came from the sheltered population, 55% came from unsheltered veterans. LEO researchers conclude that veterans’ homelessness would have increased significantly in the absence of the HUD-VASH program.

While Veterans day is only one day in which we officially honor American veterans, the programs that LEO’s partners are running honor them every day, by identifying their needs and supporting them with programs that meet these needs. These evidence-building and evidence-based programs honor their courage, and dignity, paving the way for stability and thriving.