Military and veterans charities are struggling to keep up with the flood of requests for mental health care and financial assistance, pointing to serious gaps in available safety nets for vulnerable families, according to a new study from the Bob Woodruff Foundation.
The report, based on responses from 130 community organizations that provide a range of services for military and veteran clients, was conducted in late 2023 and showed slightly more negative results than a similar survey two years earlier.
“Despite an environment of improved employment prospects, the current data show a worsening, rather than an improvement, for many of the most urgent and basic needs, such as help with housing and homelessness, emergency financial assistance, transportation, legal issues, mental health, physical health, and alcohol and substance abuse,” the report stated.
“In the face of those increased needs, communities are stretched to serve military personnel, veterans, and their families, with fewer communities able to satisfy those needs fully,” the report added. “Most issues that veterans experience are only partially resolved in American communities.”
Of the groups included in the report, 84% reported that most clients requested help getting mental health services or care. However, 71% of those groups’ leaders warned that “partner organizations in their community cannot fully address that need.”
Similarly, 72% of the groups reported individuals or families requested emergency financial assistance, but 80% of the groups were unable to provide that monetary help. And 64% of groups reported requests for food assistance, but 68% of the charitable organizations had “insufficient food resources” in their community to meet that need.
Groups surveyed did report success in meeting requests for peer mentorship, social interaction and recreational activities for military families. Also, 94% of organizations said they had resources to partially or fully help with employment-related requests, including directing individuals to job training resources.
Woodruff Foundation officials said the findings point to the need for more attention and resources devoted to challenges facing military and veteran families, as well as ways to increase community support for those priorities.
The full report is available on the foundation’s web site.