76,000 New Veterans In Illinois: Younger, Poorer, And In Need Of A New Approach

Dec 05, 2012, 12:44 ET from Robert R. McCormick Foundation

Social Impact Research Center Report Reveals Blueprint to Support New Veterans

CHICAGO, Dec. 5, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Troops returning home to Illinois from duty in Iraq and Afghanistan represent a new kind of veteran: they are younger than the majority of veterans in Illinois, there are more female service members than ever before, they face high rates of unemployment, and they suffer unique physical and mental wounds. A new report released today provides previously unseen data on recent veterans and a blueprint to help service providers, employers, education leaders, elected officials, religious leaders, and philanthropic organizations adopt new strategies to support veterans' reintegration to civilian life. The report was prepared by the Social IMPACT Research Center with the support of the Robert R. McCormick Foundation Veterans Initiative.

The report, New Veterans in Illinois: a Call to Action, includes a snapshot of new veterans in Illinois:

  • Age: 78% are in their 30s or younger.
  • Employment: Illinois had the 4th highest unemployment rate of all states for new veterans in 2010, at 13%.
  • Gender: Women comprise 17% of new veterans, more than ever before. A higher percentage of female veterans (18%) are not in the labor force compared to male veterans (11%). Nearly half of female veterans (47%) with children are raising them alone, nearly twice the rate of male veterans (25%).
  • Physical Wounds & Mental Health: 26% of veterans who were deployed since 9/11 were deployed more than once, leaving them more vulnerable to invisible wounds such as Traumatic Brain Injury and/or PTSD.
  • Geography: New veterans are concentrated in and around Chicago, near the Great Lakes Naval Base, and around St. Louis, near the Scott Air Force Base. Large numbers also reside mid-state and in north-central Illinois. 50% live in the Chicago area and 17% live in the St. Louis area.
  • Income: 46% earn less than $30,000 annually.
  • Education: 67% have a high school diploma, and 22% have a college or professional degree.
  • Military Experience: The majority served in the Army, followed by the Air Force. The top three army occupations were logistics, infantry, and medical, and the top two Air Force occupations were support, and maintenance.

"The newest cohort of veterans of the United States Armed Forces is a unique population with particular needs. They face a challenging context upon return: an economy with few job openings, systems of care that have grown accustomed to serving older and predominantly male veterans, and personal reluctance to seek help," says Social IMPACT Research Center report author Lindy Carrow. "The newest veterans may also suffer from mental and physical injuries, such as Traumatic Brain Injury resulting from the heightened use of improvised explosive devices during the Global War on Terror, which act as barriers to reintegration into civilian life. These veterans require sufficient supports in order to prevent the long-term negative impacts that many previous veteran cohorts have suffered."

"An inadequate response after Vietnam impacted many veterans for decades afterward. We need to respond differently to support our new veterans' return, and we must start now, as many are already struggling with the lasting impacts of wounds of war, unemployment, and homelessness," says Robert R. McCormick Foundation President and CEO David Hiller. "To properly support and serve veterans, communities should develop a coordinated and adequately-supported system of services to meet veterans' needs, and this new report provides a blueprint for how to do that."

http://www.heartlandalliance.org/research/ or download the report directly here.

The Robert R. McCormick Foundation is committed to fostering communities of educated, informed and engaged citizens. Through philanthropic programs, Cantigny Park and museums, the Foundation helps develop citizen leaders and works to make life better in our communities. The Foundation was established as a charitable trust in 1955, upon the death of Colonel Robert R. McCormick, the longtime editor and publisher of the Chicago Tribune. The Robert R. McCormick Foundation is one of the nation's largest foundations, with more than $1 billion in assets. To learn more, visit www.McCormickFoundation.org, follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/McCormick_Fdn, or like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/McCormickFoundation.

The Social Impact Research Center (IMPACT), the research arm of Heartland Alliance, provides dynamic research and analysis on today's most pressing social issues and solutions to inform and equip those working toward a just global society. To learn more, visit www.HeartlandAlliance.org/research, follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/IMPACTHeartland, or like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Social.Impact.Research.

SOURCE Robert R. McCormick Foundation