On Tuesday, your VFW was on hand at the U.S. Capitol for a seminar hosted by The Home Depot Foundation and the Housing Assistance Council to discuss the unique challenges faced by rural veterans and present the council's new report on housing rural veterans in America, entitled “From Service to Shelter.”
The Housing Assistance Council report, which was supported through The Home Depot Foundation, qualitatively and quantitatively studied the unique characteristics of rural veterans and the challenges in delivering services to meet their needs. To read the full report, click here.
In the report, the council points out that more than a quarter of the American veteran population lives in rural America, and that rural veterans tend to be older than their non-veteran counterparts. The report also recognizes that rural veterans face significant barriers in accessing services, and that the needs of the rural veterans’ community will change over the next few years as the military downsizes.
Still, the report acknowledges that rural veterans usually fare better economically than their non-veteran peers, often having lower poverty rates; higher educational attainment; higher income; and lower overall unemployment.
The Housing Assistance Council acknowledged the recent efforts by VA and its partner federal agencies in combating veteran homelessness and other socio-economic challenges. However, the council acknowledged that as the aging rural veterans’ population enters its senior years, more challenges will emerge in accessing health care and other services. The council recommended more flexibility in programs designed to serve rural veterans, allowing the agencies responsible for delivering the services to adapt to the needs of an ever-changing and diverse rural veterans’ population.
The seminar also featured two panels to discuss federal resources for rural veterans and examples of local programs that have helped satisfy the needs of the community. Sens. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga.; and Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.; as well as Rep. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., were all on hand to offer the Congressional perspective to the experiences of rural student veterans and to discuss potential solutions.
The Home Depot Foundation has been working aggressively over the last two years to identify and address challenges in veterans’ housing. By working through the Housing Assistance Council, The Home Depot Foundation has worked with community partners to deliver new kinds of services to rural veterans.
Your VFW has been a vocal advocate to end veterans’ homelessness, and was one of the leading voices calling for the formation of the VA’s Office of Rural Health, which coordinates health care delivery for veterans who do not live near a VA health care facility. The VFW will continue to work with VA, its partner agencies, Congress and the philanthropic community to find ways to better serve rural and remote veterans. Check back regularly for updates.