CNAS Releases Report on Community Efforts to Serve Veterans

Washington, June 22 – A new study from the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) examines the collaborative networks formed by private and nonprofit organizations as they seek to support veterans transitioning from military service to local communities.

In the report, “A Continuum of Collaboration” researchers from the CNAS Military, Veterans, and Society Program examine the historical development of community collaboratives serving veterans and propose a framework of understanding the context in which these organizations operate, both within communities and between public and private initiatives. The analysis of these efforts to serve veterans used a mixed-methods approach, leveraging both qualitative and quantitative methods to establish the community collaborative landscape and design models that place each organization in the appropriate setting.

The report identifies recommendations for how funders can best support collaborative efforts, with a particular emphasis on linking veterans groups to organizations serving a broader population, allowing for greater sector-specific efficiencies. In addition:

VA should work to better engage state and local governments in efforts to serve veterans. The VA’s unique position of delivering direct services to veterans means that access to state and local governments is limited. Programs that are redesigned to interact with local authorities will be able to access communities, as well as individuals.

VA should look to leverage community collaboratives for community care. While the resources provided by the VA remain unparalleled, there is an opportunity for community collaboratives to partner with the agency, augmenting its capabilities and improving integration with individual communities.

Funders should demand rigorous evaluation of programs. Active oversight for these programs will not just encourage a learning process as techniques are perfected, but heightened accountability ensures that resources are allocated where they will be most useful.

Collaborative activities should identify and better use performance metrics and drive collective impact through shared outcomes. Thoughtful and precise performance metrics from Congress, funders, and organizations will help drive meaningful results.

Funders should drive increased collaboration between organizations and sectors. Specifically, funders should utilize their leverage to encourage mutually beneficial cooperation.

Government should identify and reduce barriers to public-private-nonprofit partnerships. Federal ethics and acquisition rules present a major obstacle to effective cooperation: where possible, the government must review and revise guidelines to public-private partnerships.

The report was written by CNAS Fellow Katherine Kidder and Director of the Military, Veterans, and Society Program Phillip Carter.