Military Families and Food Insecurity

When active-duty service members struggle to feed their families, By Dorian Merina, April 19, 2017, National Public Radio: “Kara Dethlefsen lined up early on a recent morning for the food pantry at the Camp Pendleton Marine Base near San Diego. She and her husband, both active-duty Marines, took turns holding their 4-month-old daughter. ‘We most like to get the avocados, lemons, some vegetables to cook up,’ says Dethlefsen, 27, who first heard about the pantry from an on-base nurse after giving birth.  ‘This probably saves us anywhere from $100-300 each time we come,’ she says. That’s key for her young family. Her husband is getting ready to transition to civilian life after five years of military service, and they’re not sure what financial challenges that could bring…”

SNAP and Military Families

Should more troops become eligible for food stamps?, By Carl Prine, November 28, 2016, San Diego Union-Tribune: “Despite steep pay raises since the 9/11 terror attacks, too many military personnel still struggle to feed their families and need an easier way to get food stamps, according to a new bill from a San Diego congresswoman.  Susan Davis has introduced the Military Hunger Prevention Act in a bid to exempt the military’s Basic Allowance for Housing — a central component of most troops’ compensation — when determining eligibility for food stamps and 17 other federal food programs.  The legislation comes as food pantries and other charities said they continue to encounter strong demand from military households for their services…”

Veteran Homelessness

US veteran homelessness slashed in half: What’s behind the decline?, By Aidan Quigley, August 1, 2016, Christian Science Monitor: “The struggles of America’s veterans, disproportionally affected by homelessness, have long been documented. However, a coordinated effort on the part of federal, state, and local governments, as well as veteran advocacy groups has started to make a significant dent in the problem of veteran homelessness.  On the whole, veteran homelessness has decreased 47 percent since 2010 and the number of unsheltered veterans has been slashed by more than half, according to a report released Monday by the Obama administration…”

Veteran Homelessness

Cities across US slash homelessness for veterans, By Brian MacQuarrie, March 14, 2016, Boston Globe: “Perched on a Spartan bed with a simple metal frame, a tiny bathroom only a few feet away, 61-year-old George Gisoldi beams as he surveys his shoebox-size domain.  The disabled Air Force veteran is no longer homeless.   ‘I have a home to go to. I have a place to go to. I’m somebody,’ Gisoldi, a native New Yorker, said as sunlight streamed through oversize windows at a former Catholic school in Brooklyn. Gisoldi is part of a national response to a federal call to move veterans off the streets. In New York, red tape has been cut, staffing added and consolidated, and veterans identified shelter by shelter, street corner by street corner.  As a result, the homeless veterans living on the street in this teeming city of 8 million have all but disappeared…”

Veteran Homelessness

Cities, states fight veteran homelessness, By Jen Fifield, December 21, 2015, Stateline: “The smell of coffee filled the air on a recent Thursday morning in Carpenter’s Shelter, a homeless shelter here, as about a dozen people milled about. Two U.S. Army veterans were among them: a middle-aged man and woman who aren’t looking for a permanent place to live. They said the food, showers and services at the shelter are enough, for now. The Obama administration, in June 2014, challenged local governments to find a home for all veterans who want one by the end of this month. At least nine states and 850 municipalities tried to meet the goal, but Virginia and 15 municipalities were the only ones that succeeded…”

Unemployment Among Veterans

Unemployment for veterans at lowest level in 7 years, By Angela Johnson, November 11, 2015, CNBC: “The unemployment rate for veterans has dropped to its lowest level in seven years, thanks to an all-hands-on-deck push by government and corporate America to hire veterans.  According to the most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the jobless rate for veterans — a population of nearly 20 million— dropped to 3.9 percent in October, down from 4.3 percent a month earlier and 4.5 percent a year ago. This is its lowest level in seven years…”

Homeless Military Veterans

Service members discharged for misconduct have much higher rates of homelessness, study says, By Alan Zarembo, August 26, 2015, Los Angeles Times: “Veterans whose behavior got them kicked out of the military have dramatically higher rates of homelessness than those who left under normal circumstances, according to a new study by researchers from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Among VA patients who served in Iraq or Afghanistan between 2001 and 2011, 5.6% were discharged for misconduct. Yet these patients accounted for 28.1% of veterans who had been homeless within their first year out of the military, the analysis found. The type of misconduct that resulted in discharge typically involved drug or alcohol use…”

Veteran Homelessness and Unemployment

An end to jobless vets? New VA job program raises hopes, By Gretel Kauffman, June 28, 2015, Christian Science Monitor: “The US Department of Veteran Affairs has launched a new program which offers individualized assistance to the roughly 50,000 unemployed veterans living on the street. Through the Homeless Veterans Community Employment Services program, more than 150 community employment coordinators (CECs) will help veterans at VA locations across the country by identifying those who are job-ready and establishing relationships with community employers who may be able to find them jobs. The coordinators will also connect veterans with resources to help them succeed in their jobs once they find employment…”

Homelessness Among Veterans

Innovative program is tailored to prevent homelessness among vets, By Tony Perry, February 16, 2014, Los Angeles Times: “Kris Warren, a Marine veteran with combat duty in Iraq, remembers the disorientation and other problems that kept him from reentering civilian life. Finally he mustered the courage to ask for help from the Department of Veterans Affairs in Los Angeles. With that help over months, he was able to reunite with his wife and children and avoid slipping into homelessness. Now, Warren, 36, is part of an innovative VA program set to begin in San Diego: a residential treatment facility exclusively for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans in danger of becoming homeless…”

SNAP and Military Families

Food stamp use among military rises again, By Jennifer Liberto, February 17, 2014, CNNMoney: “More military families used food stamps to buy milk, cheese, meat and bread at military grocers last year. Food stamp redemption at military grocers has been rising steadily since the beginning of the recession in 2008. Nearly $104 million worth of food stamps was redeemed at military commissaries in the fiscal year ended Sept. 30…”

Unemployment Among Veterans

Unemployment among recent veterans drops sharply, By Alan Zarembo, July 23, 2013, Los Angeles Times: “Unemployment among recent veterans has fallen sharply and now is the same as for the rest of the U.S. population, hovering just above 7%, new federal statistics show. The figures suggest that a vexing and stubborn trend of higher joblessness among veterans who left the military after September 2001 has been reversed. It now appears that veterans are being hired at a faster rate than non-veterans. Advocates credited a variety of public and private efforts, including major U.S. corporations beginning to make good on pledges to hire hundreds of thousands of veterans, federal tax incentives for employers and allowances for veterans to receive professional licenses based on their military training…”

States and Medicaid Expansion

  • A quarter-million uninsured vets will miss out on Medicaid expansion, By Michael Ollove, Stateline: “More than a quarter-million veterans who lack health insurance will miss out on Medicaid coverage because they live in states that have declined to expand the program under the Affordable Care Act. Expanding Medicaid eligibility is a key component of the new federal health law, which aims to provide coverage to the vast majority of uninsured Americans. In January, uninsured adults with incomes at or below 138 percent of the federal poverty level ($15,415 for an individual and $32,527 for a family of four) will become eligible for Medicaid benefits in states that expand their programs. Many people assume that the nation’s 12.5 million non-elderly veterans receive health benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). But only two-thirds of those veterans are eligible for VA health care and only one-third are enrolled…”
  • Medicaid expansion crucial to mentally ill, By Catherine Candisky, May 30, 2013, Columbus Dispatch: “Ohio’s mentally ill will be among those hurt most if lawmakers refuse to expand Medicaid under the federal health-care law. A report being released today by the National Alliance for Mental Illness found 1 in 4 Ohioans who would gain subsidized health coverage suffer from mental illness. Ohio is among 16 states still undecided about expansion, and of those, only one has a higher rate — Nebraska, where 30 percent have mental illness…”
  • Full Medicaid expansion would save money and cover more, fiscal bureau says, By David Wahlberg, May 29, 2013, Wisconsin State Journal: “Wisconsin would save $119 million and cover nearly 85,000 more adults if it did a full Medicaid expansion under federal health reform instead of Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed partial expansion, according to a nonpartisan report. The Legislative Fiscal Bureau report, released Tuesday, comes as the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee is poised to take up Walker’s Medicaid plan this week or next week…”
  • Gov. Snyder to call in federal help to push for Medicaid expansion, By Kathleen Gray and Matt Helms, May 31, 2013, Detroit Free Press: “Gov. Rick Snyder will call in federal reinforcements to help convince a recalcitrant Republican-majority Legislature to accept money to expand Medicaid. After a speech Friday closing out the Detroit Regional Chamber’s annual Mackinac Policy Conference, Snyder said he has talked with U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to determine the best way to get the expansion passed in Michigan, and setting a time for someone with HHS to come to the state to talk with lawmakers…”
  • LePage loses full funding Medicaid request, By Steve Mistler, May 31, 2013, Portland Press Herald: “The federal government cannot grant Gov. Paul LePage’s request for 10 years of full funding for an expansion of Medicaid in Maine, says the agency that administers the program. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services delivered the message to the LePage administration in a letter on May 24. The decision wasn’t unexpected, but it revived the heated debate among state lawmakers and Le- Page over whether Maine should extend benefits to 60,000 more low-income residents. The federal government has given several states flexibility for their participation in Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, but no state has secured a deal to fully fund expansion for a decade…”
  • Corbett protests switching children to Medicaid, By Marc Levy (AP), May 31, 2013, Philadelphia Inquirer: “Gov. Tom Corbett is pressing the federal government for an exemption that he said will prevent about 70,000 Pennsylvania children in a state-subsidized health insurance program from having to switch to Medicaid, although a public interest law center challenged Corbett’s claims and said the children will be better off under Medicaid. Corbett wrote Thursday to U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius about his latest request, part of his effort to press her agency to make enough concessions to a federally funded expansion of Medicaid before he will change his mind and allow Pennsylvania to join it…”

Military Veterans’ Jobless Rate

Veterans’ jobless rate falls but remains high, By Gregg Zoroya, January 6, 2013, USA Today: “Soaring unemployment that has bedeviled Iraq- and Afghanistan-era veterans for five years has finally reversed. The jobless rate dropped to an annual average of 9.9% last year from 12.1% in 2011, labor statistics show. ‘It looks like it peaked in 2011 and has since been coming down,’ says James Borbely, an economist for the Bureau of Labor Statistics who studies veteran data. ‘We’re looking at a rate that has clearly improved.’  Veteran advocates caution that joblessness among this group remains stubbornly high — well above the national unemployment rate of 7.8%. About 205,000 of those who served in or during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are without work…”

Homeless Veterans in the US

Veteran homeless drops 7 percent, VA says, By Steve Vogel, December 10, 2012, Washington Post: “The number of homeless veterans in the United States counted on a single night this year declined 7.2 percent from the previous year, a reduction significantly higher than that seen in the general population, according to figures released Monday. Overall, the number of homeless people in the country declined only slightly, to 633,782 counted on a single night in January, about 0.4 percent lower than the previous year. The figures included a 1.4 percent increase in homeless people who are part of households that have at least one adult and one child…”

Homelessness Among Veterans

Number of homeless veterans dropping notably, but major hurdles remain in solving the problem, Associated Press, November 12, 2012, Washington Post: “Arthur Lute’s arduous journey from his days as a U.S. Marine to his nights sleeping on the streets illustrates the challenge for the Obama administration to fulfill its promise to end homelessness among veterans by 2015. Lute has post-traumatic stress disorder from the 1983 bombing of the Marine barracks in Lebanon. He spent years drifting through jobs, two years in prison for assault, then 15 months sleeping in the bushes outside the police department of this city south of San Diego. Today, he lives in a $1,235 a month, two-bedroom apartment in a working-class neighborhood. The federal government pays nearly 80 percent of the rent and mostly covers the cost of medicines for his depression, high blood pressure, and other health problems. State-funded programs pay for doctor’s appointments for his 6-month-old son and therapy for his wife, who he said is bipolar…”

Military Veterans Living in Poverty – Los Angeles, CA

Poverty growing among L.A. County veterans, study finds, By Alexandra Zavis, November 9, 2012, Los Angeles Times: “Thousands of veterans in Los Angeles County are falling into poverty and unemployment, according to research commissioned by United Way of Greater Los Angeles, which issued a call to action Friday to better address the needs of returning service members. ‘Our region is woefully unprepared with the support services necessary to ensure a smooth transition into civilian life,’ said the group’s regional president, Elise Buik. Although numerous programs exist to assist local veterans, coordination between them is insufficient, and they aren’t getting consistent or timely data on the population they serve, United Way officials said…”

Homelessness Among Veterans

  • A push to help U.S. veterans fight homelessness, By Pam Fessler, April 16, 2012, National Public Radio: “Last year, the number of homeless U.S. veterans on a given night dropped 12 percent from the year before. But tens of thousands were still on the streets, and more could be joining them as troops return from Afghanistan and Iraq. President Obama has vowed to end veterans’ homelessness by 2015…”
  • More of Asheville’s homeless vets find permanent housing, By Elizabeth Bewley, April 15, 2012, Asheville Citizen-Times: “Sherwood Little, a 56-year-old Navy veteran who used to live on the streets, now rents an apartment in Asheville and receives counseling and medical care – all with the federal government’s help. The Vietnam-era veteran gets monthly vouchers from the Department of Housing and Urban Development to help pay his rent. Since moving into an apartment in 2010, he has received treatment for depression and hypertension and has worked with Veterans Affairs Department caseworkers to get signed up for federal disability benefits…”

Homelessness Among Veterans

U.S. mission: End homelessness for veterans by 2015, By Rob Hotakainen, April 4, 2012, Seattle Times: “Darren Spencer, a 39-year-old Army veteran from Tacoma, found himself homeless after losing his $15.45-an-hour job as a furniture mover a year ago. He takes pills for his depression and has trouble hearing. He has no car. And his unemployment benefits ran out in December. But Spencer considers himself lucky on one count: In August, he got a voucher from the federal government to help pay the $725 monthly rent for his apartment in Tacoma’s Hilltop neighborhood, where he lives with his 18-year-old son, Lamont. ‘I still have a lot of stress, but that’s one thing I don’t have to stress about,’ Spencer said. ‘It’s still hard, but at least now I have a place to stay.’ Spencer is among the thousands of beneficiaries of a federal effort to end all homelessness among veterans by 2015. It’s a lofty goal as the nation gears up to accommodate an additional 1 million service members set to return home from war in the next five years…”

Joblessness Among Veterans

Some go extra mile to hire growing pool of jobless veterans, By Gregg Zoroya, March 20, 2012, USA Today: “Thomas Garlic and Steve Castillo found that their time in combat in Iraq and their service in the Army added up to little or nothing when they became civilians looking for work. ‘It was very depressing,’ says Garlic, 26, who lives with his wife and 5-year-old son outside Chicago. He was discharged in 2008 with post-traumatic stress disorder and has been largely jobless ever since. ‘Every time I would go up to bat, I would just strike out.’  ‘When I first got out (in 2008), I had a lot of motivation, a lot of high self-esteem, and everything was good,’ says Castillo, 31, a medically retired Army staff sergeant from Biloxi, Miss. But steady work eluded him as well. He lives on temporary, often-menial labor and an $1,800-per-month government disability check for his combat injuries. ‘We’re barely scratching by,’ Castillo says. As the nation grapples with finding work for its newest generation of combat veterans, job experts say that basic roadblocks persist for those willing to hire them: how to find these veterans and how to train them in new, non-military skills…”

Homeless Military Veterans

Number of homeless vets down 12 percent, report says, By Steve Vogel, December 12, 2011, Washington Post: “The number of homeless veterans in the United States declined by nearly 12 percent between January 2010 and January 2011, according to figures being released Tuesday by the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan called the decline ‘nothing short of extraordinary,’ given the economic conditions in the country. The annual survey found that 67,495 veterans were homeless in the United States on a single night in January 2011, nearly 9,000 fewer than the 76,329 counted in January 2010. The figures show nearly an 11 percent drop in homelessness among veterans since January 2009, when 75,609 were recorded as homeless…”