Findings Friday | Serving Our Vets, Part 3: Veteran-Nonprofit Misalignment

July 19, 2013
| by Editor |

GCN’s Metro Atlanta Veterans’ Services Research Project (VSRP) is the first comprehensive study designed to gain a more holistic understanding of how best to support area veterans.

The ten-county metro Atlanta area is home to approximately 216,000 veterans.  This blog series focuses on issues highlighted by a survey of metro vets and veteran-service organizations and potential solutions to enable nonprofits to promote social reintegration. So far, we've posted on the skyrocketing of service usage over time; nonprofits’ capacity to provide veteran-specific assistance.  Today, in the final of the three-part series, we'll focus on the mismatch of nonprofits’ focus and veteran needs.

There are two main ways in which the VSRP measures the veteran-organizational misalignment – perceptions of need, and provision and utilization.

Perceptions of Need

As mentioned in our previous installment, a lack of awareness of the target community – here, veterans – affects the overall ability of organizations to provide appropriate and holistic services. A gulf exists between perceptions of greatest needs. For example, nonprofits and VSOs drastically underestimate the need of mental health services. More broadly, vet and VSO perceived need prioritizations vary across the board.

Looking at the table below, differences become evident between what VSOs perceive to be vets’ greatest needs and what vets believe their greatest needs are. Among the top service categories, mental health is the only commonality. Interestingly, there is variation between vets speaking for themselves and vets’ perception of the aggregated community. Allowing these veteran-based responses to inform organizational awareness may lead to more appropriate program offerings.

 
VSO perspective of primary need Vet perspective of all needs (self) Vet perspective of all
needs (overall) 

Mental Health
Housing
Employment
Education
Transportation
Financial

41%
32%
24%
10%
8%
8%

Physical Health
Mental Health
Dependent Health
Disability Benefits
Mortgage Loans
Substance Abuse

87%
71%
68%
59%
58%
33%

Physical Health
Mental Health
Disability Benefits
Substance Abuse
Dependent Health
Housing

92%
91%
52%
50%
48%
47%

 

Provision and Utilization

With such a gap in understanding, funding and available programming are subsequently affected. This outcome can be measured by comparing services provided versus services utilized. In Metro Atlanta, there are more than 8,400 homeless individuals, 1,600 of which are known to be veterans - nearly 20%. Compare that to the mere 5,741 emergency and transitional shelter beds. 

One question provides a more round explanation to why the statistical record overall suggests that there may be some gaps in service in the sector. That question is about organization’s primary focus or primary field of service. To illustrate this, compare the ranking of the below service provisions (largest to smallest) to the prioritized needs of veterans (listed above).

This sums up our three-part series analyzing the Metro Atlanta Veterans Service Report. If you have any feedback or questions leave a comment below or contact us directly. Next week, we'll discuss the newly released 2013 Millennial Impact Report.

Tommy Pearce is Communications Coordinator at the Georgia Center for Nonprofits.

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