About Veterans Transition
Since 2003, more than 3 million enlisted service members and officers have separated, and returned to civilian life. The most often-cited needs of veterans have been related to housing (homelessness), civilian employment, mental health services, spouse employment opportunities, community engagement strategies, and effective community-based reintegration approaches. In 2017, Defense officials predict that 230,000-250,000 enlisted and officers will continue to separate each year until 2019 and that the same transition and civilian adjustment needs will continue to be front and center.
According to a 2017 Brown University report from the Costs of War project, “Transition has been a central concept of thinking about post 9-11 veterans’ experiences…Transition points to a complicated nexus of social and medical issues that veterans face, and highlights the difficulty if distinguishing between the effects of medical problems, family problems unemployment, and the stress of adjusting to a different social environment."
As more data about military transition are analyzed and examined to understand the effects and impact of modern military service, the better both government entities and non-governmental stakeholders can focus their priorities and investments, including the philanthropic sector.
About the Veterans Philanthropy Exchange
In 2010, Admiral Mike Mullen, then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, implored the Council’s membership from the plenary stage of the 2010 Conference to join the national “Sea of Goodwill”. He encouraged foundations to consider being part of a national stakeholder movement to support the transition of service members and their families back into civilian life after years of war.
Following Admiral Mullen’s “call to action,” the Council was invited to join national stakeholder discussions hosted by the Department of Veterans Affairs in 2011. Their leadership was seeking input from stakeholders on how to work collaboratively on the transition of almost 2.6 million troops back to the country after combat. Given the cost of war to the federal treasury and the additional strain on the economy resulting from the Great Recession of 2008 – and an anticipated slow economic recovery that would likely follow -- smooth transition to civilian life would be a tall order, given the numbers and the diversity of the forces.
In response to the growing national conversation, the Council began to probe these issues with Council members to identify a level of interest and to determine what facets of veterans transition and reintegration tested high. In 2012, the Council organized an informal veterans funders’ advisory committee to inform the Council’s responses to the government outreach and to insure we understood the philanthropic investment priorities that were beginning to emerge. Ultimately, we determined that community leadership and community-based support for a new generation of veterans was a “sweet spot” for foundation involvement. Input into the public policymaking process, new partnerships with federal initiatives being organized to address Iraq-Afghanistan veterans’ needs, and funder to funder learning were also cited as important areas of interest. We concluded that what was needed was a central platform to facilitate people and organizations finding each other, but not to drive a particular partnership or solution.
What is the Council’s role?
Our goal is to provide activities that help community stakeholders, veteran policymakers, and grantmakers to find each other for collaboration - not to drive a particular partnership or solution.
- Assisting the White House and policymakers in the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Defense with identifying interested foundations for their outreach purposes or policy input.
- Responding to NGOs and veterans services organizations that are seeking philanthropic sector partners for community engagement and direct service provision.
- Connecting Council members to foundations with veterans services experience for guidance and to identify new collaborative efforts.