Alaska boasts the highest veteran population per capita with more than 65,000 calling Alaska home. The state also hosts one of the largest military installations in the country and while there is a well-knit support structure for active duty and their families; that support structure becomes disjointed and not easily navigated when our service members become veterans. There is a plethora of support and opportunities in Alaska, but many are not aware of them or the benefits they’ve earned. Likewise, veteran organizations and other community offerings do not have the capacity or can be unaware of how to connect with veterans.
The Navajo Nation is 27,413 square miles, the largest reservation in the country, and is one of the least supported in terms of infrastructure with many homes not having electricity or running water. According to the Navajo Nation Veterans Administration, the Nation is home to approximately 14,000 Veterans (2021). This rural and vast community makes access to support and opportunities challenging for veterans and their families and many are not aware of resources or the benefits they’ve earned. Veteran organizations focused on direct services can be supported by outreach to veterans that may benefit from their services; and local and surrounding community offerings are often unaware of what the veterans on Navajo Nation are needing, looking for, or how to best get involved.
There are over 100,000 veterans spanning the Central Indiana area. While there is a strong and diversified existing veteran support structure, it is mostly located in Indianapolis. Indy has made great strides in veteran homelessness and boasts strong workforce development, but there is neither an organization focused on proactively outreaching to the veteran population [that is not actively seeking service] nor one building a trusted relationship through continuous engagement to the veteran population. Central Indiana veterans report being overwhelmed by the many kinds of resources or conversely being unaware of the resources available. Collectively, the community has identified the need for proactive outreach to veterans, especially in the suburbs and more rural areas of Central Indiana to educate and connect them to the direct service providers.
The Florida Panhandle is home to one of the largest concentrations of military installations and personnel in the country and while there is a well-knit support structure for active duty and their families; that support structure becomes disjointed and not easily navigated when our service members become veterans. An estimated 100,000 veterans reside in the communities of Northwestern Florida, “The Panhandle”. The larger cities within Northwestern Florida have a variety of support organizations and opportunities, but many veterans, especially in the largely rural areas that span the distance between the Panhandle cities, are not aware of them or the benefits they’ve earned. Veteran organizations are focused on direct services and do not have the capacity to proactively engage the veteran population prior to a need being identified. Additionally, community offerings within the cities can be unaware of what the veterans in the Panhandle are looking for and how to best support them.
The Permian Basin has approximately 20,000 known veterans as part of the Permian Basin population spanning the counties of Midland and Ector in Texas and Lea and Eddy in New Mexico. We know many commute in for work and it is the consensus there are many more veterans than have been identified. The diverse landscape and opportunities in the Permian Basin, along with its distinctive collection of communities make it a unique challenge for holistic veteran engagement and service.
The Permian Basin and its various cities’ civic leadership have demonstrated a deep support for the military-connected and veteran population, and for building a more holistic approach to that support. The larger cities have a variety of veteran organizations focused on direct services that can be supported by dedicated upstream and sustained engagement with veterans. Collectively, the Permian Basin communities have identified the need for proactive outreach to educate and connect veterans to direct services and opportunities, especially in the vast, rural areas that span the two states.