New research offers overview of government funding and initiatives for Georgia vets

U.S. veterans and their dependents are eligible for a wide range of benefits after their service, but they can be overwhelmed by how they are spread out over multiple state and federal agencies—each having its own application, eligibility requirements and award process. A new report from The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta paints a full-system picture of available benefits that provides immediate and useful insight for nonprofits that serve veterans and their families.

When The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta (CFGA) decided to perform deeper research into Georgia veterans services and reintegration, they formulated a simple strategy: follow the money.

CFGA hired Clare Richie of DeClare Consulting to explore how funding for veterans flows from the federal and Georgia state government to regions, directly to nonprofits, and across agencies and areas of impact. Richie presented her findings to a packed room at GCN headquarters on Monday, Feb. 24. 

“This is the ideal space for us,” said Lesley Grady, senior vice president of community partnerships at CFGA. “We can advance philanthropy in this region against a critical population and a critical need, and nonprofits like yours are right at the heart of it.”

GCN President and CEO Karen Beavor kicked off the morning by welcoming all attendees and thanking them for their service to area veterans. Beavor reminded attendees of GCN’s Metro Atlanta Veterans Services Report, a 2012 collaboration between GCN, The Home Depot Foundation and The Marcus Foundation, and available for download on GCN.org.  “We all use the term veterans, but they vary from war to war and generation to generation. This research provides data you can use immediately to be more competitive for funding.”

Richie began her presentation by pointing out the fragmented nature of funding for veterans. For starters, there’s no standardized legal definition of a US military veteran. Beyond that, many people believe that veterans automatically receive a benefits package when they return home from war, but that’s simply not the case: “Each benefit includes specific eligibility requirements, and you have to apply for them from multiple federal and state agencies.”

"We all use the term 'veterans,' but they vary from war to war and generation to generation."

Additionally, veterans themselves have a wide variety of needs. For instance, of the estimated 776,000 veterans living in Georgia, approximately 100,000 served in Iraq and Afghanistan. According to Richie, this new group of veterans includes more women, more blast injuries and fewer fatalities compared to veterans of previous wars.

Richie’s research identified and highlighted state and federal funds and initiatives over three major areas for veterans: education, employment and health. She identified major governmental funding structures and sources for each area and highlighted opportunities for collaboration, advocacy, and referrals that provide next steps for nonprofits, government, funders and business can rally around to improve outcome for Georgia veterans and their dependents.

Recent research on veterans services

For a broad overview of Richie’s research, view the report's executive summary and the presentation from her Feb. 24 nonprofit briefing.

For the full report on veterans funding and initiatives, including detailed explanations of how such funds are appropriated, accessed and used, view Richie’s report State and Federal Funds for Veterans and their Dependents in Georgia on CFGA's website. They also continuously update their online hub for all activity surrounding their work with veterans funding.

To explore GCN and The Home Depot Foundation’s research on veterans services overall in Metro Atlanta, read our research report and our top level findings.

Tom Zimmerman is Communications Manager at the Georgia Center for Nonprofits.

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