Gen. David Petraeus urges local military community to help shape veteran policy

The University of Southern California School of Social Work has launched the most comprehensive survey to date to gauge the diverse needs of Los Angeles County’s military community, including families and service providers.

The Los Angeles Veterans Survey (www.lavetsurvey.org), developed by the Center for Innovation and Research on Veterans & Military Families at the USC School of Social Work, will poll 3,000 active service members and veterans; 1,000 spouses and partners; and 500 service providers to help identify the opportunities for program development, public policy and community collaboration.

“People would always ask me about the needs of our veterans in Los Angeles,” said Anthony Hassan, center director. “The problem is I don’t know. No one does. I could speculate based on national data, but the best way to identify opportunities for service programs is by putting boots on the ground and asking them.”

Working in conjunction with the Los Angeles Veterans Collaborative, a group representing more than 200 service providers and organizations, the center will use the data to help build effective community networks and promising preventive strategies.

Veterans are returning with a range of transitional challenges, including post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injury and homelessness. But, the vast majority are merely navigating through daily life challenges—employment, housing, health care, education, relationships, etc.—and do not always reach out for help.

The survey is an opportunity to reach out to the more than 320,000 veterans in Los Angeles County and gather data that will point new policies toward the most strategic impact areas so that the majority of those returning veterans and military families do not turn into extreme cases.

“The Los Angeles Veterans Survey is a hugely important, path-breaking initiative that will contribute significantly to the identification of unmet needs and challenges facing our veterans—and also the opportunities that exist for them as well,” said Gen. David Petraeus, former director of the Central Intelligence Agency and USC professor affiliated with the center.

The center has partnered with 211 LA County, the California Department of Veterans Affairs and Goodwill, among others, to recruit targeted populations that have eluded similar studies in the past, like women and homeless veterans.

Survey respondents are eligible for a range of incentives. Also, individuals taking the survey, along with their spouse/partner and up to four children, will receive free entry on Veterans Day (Nov. 11) into the Natural History Museum, located at 900 Exposition Blvd. The survey runs until the end of the year.

The survey will delve into multiple areas, including housing, employment and mental health. Not only will it inquire about employment status, but also whether employed veterans consider the civilian job commensurate with their skillset. It will also ask about the specific barriers to access to care, ranging from a lack of awareness to transportation obstacles. And it will ask about the level of satisfaction with help provided for those service members and family members who have sought counseling or other mental health therapy.

The Center for Innovation and Research on Veterans & Military Families (cir.usc.edu), housed within the USC School of Social Work, promotes the health and well-being of service members, veterans and military families through research, education and outreach that encourages successful transitions to civilian life. Among our priorities are rapidly increasing the number of behavioral health providers trained to treat the challenges veterans and their families face, as well as mental health research that can be translated into clinical practice.

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 LAvetsurvey postcard

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