Military and Veteran Needs in North Carolina: An On-Going Project

Woman soldier reunited with her son on a sunny day

A recent project spearheaded by Dr. Sam Cacace of North Carolina State University’s Center for Family and Community Engagement seeks to understand, assess, and promote the needs of active military and veterans in North Carolina. The primary objective of this project is to form a picture of needs for military service members, veterans, families, and veteran/military serving organizations. For this project, Dr. Cacace and her team received outreach and facilitation support from USO, NCServes, Team Red White and Blue, and Team Rubicon. In order to gain a better understanding of how to best meet the needs of this community, substantial data collection is currently underway. This is an ongoing project with the end goal being to return information back to veteran/military serving organizations, so that they can work together, rather than compete, to better serve the veteran and transitioning military community in a more positive way.

Both a quantitative and qualitative approach is being taken in order to gain greater insight into the needs of this community. A mixed-methods approach allows for richer data from those who are attempting to access services, and those who are attempting to provide them. The idea for this approach developed as a result of a literature review that revealed a lack of needs assessments for the veteran community. Additionally, talks with NCServes, who work as a connection point between veterans and organizations that can help them, revealed similar shortcomings. While there are likely gaps in resources, a formal identification of these gaps has not yet been established. Furthermore, there is also a lack of communication between Veteran-Serving Organizations (VSOs) and Military-Serving Organizations (MSOs) to determine who is providing what services, and where those services and solutions may overlap.

Quantitative data is being shared between the Institute for Veterans and Military Families and the Center for Family and Community Engagement containing over 10k cases of veteran referrals in the coming weeks. Qualitative data has been collected through Community Cafes across North Carolina. These round-table discussions provide active military, military families, transitioning military, veterans, and military/veteran serving organizations the opportunity to meet and discuss the needs of the community at large. Additionally, these cafes have allowed for VSOs with leadership who are veterans themselves to be heard. This has allowed for direct contact with those the project hopes to assist.

The last Community Cafe took place in Greensboro on April 26. In addition to the literature review of veteran and military needs finished a few months prior, a thematic analysis is now underway for the qualitative data collected. Preliminary results will be presented during the NC Strive Conference on June 6 in Talley Student Union at North Carolina State University. NC Strive hosts military-focused conferences that highlight the local military and veteran communities across North Carolina. The information received and developed throughout this project will be reported back to VSOs/MSOs in hope of fostering a better understanding of how to best serve the military and veteran community of North Carolina.

Dr. Sam Cacace is a Postdoctoral Research Scholar with the Center for Family and Community Engagement. The Center is proud of the work she is accomplishing and her dedication to better our community as a whole. Please contact Dr. Cacace at sccacace@ncsu.edu or 919-824-9027 with questions regarding this project.

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