by Maya Meinert

The USC School of Social Work’s Center for Innovation and Research on Veterans and Military Families (CIR) has received a grant from the Newman’s Own Foundation to gather critical data that will help identify where resources are needed most for veterans and their families and how best to serve them.

The $125,000 award will allow CIR to work with the Los Angeles Veterans Collaborative, a CIR-administered group of community stakeholders from organizations serving veterans and military families, to produce a “report card” on the services available to veterans and their families in the Los Angeles area. The gift will also help CIR develop a best practices model for other communities to reference in helping them evaluate their veterans’ needs and connect them and their families to timely, relevant help.

“The Newman’s Own gift will allow us to take the first step in helping build a consensus within Los Angeles on the key outcomes for our veterans and their family members in the areas of health, community well-being and community processes,” said Anthony Hassan, director of CIR. “This gift represents tangible progress toward realizing the elusive goal of appropriately and comprehensively responding to our military-impacted population’s needs.”

CIR will work with members of the collaborative, which includes representatives from the California Army National Guard, Salvation Army, California Employment Development Department and LAW Project of Los Angeles, to identify areas of high veteran concentration, where resources are needed or underutilized, where and why gaps in services exist, and analyze barriers to access.

Hassan said the findings could be used in many ways, including being incorporated into policy making, to assess legislative or grant proposals, or to evaluate the effectiveness of community programs and services.

This work will help CIR continue its mission of identifying and facilitating best practices in the field of behavioral health that help veterans and their families overcome the effects of combat service and other challenges to successful reintegration into their communities.

“We are proud of the men and women who have made innumerable sacrifices in service to our country,” said Robert Forrester, president of Newman’s Own Foundation. “For nearly 20 years, we have been supporting the organizations that help our nation’s troops and their families. This funding is intended to further the impact that our grantees are having in the lives of individuals and families in their time of need.”

The late actor and philanthropist Paul Newman established Newman’s Own Foundation in 2005 as a means of continuing his pledge to donate to charity all net profits and royalties from the sale of products from Newman’s Own, Inc. Since the food company’s founding in 1982, Newman and Newman’s Own Foundation have donated more than $350 million to thousands of charities worldwide.

This article also appeared on the USC School of Social Work news site.

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