Assessing the Needs of New York’s Veterans: An Update
March 18, 2022
Outside New York State
More than a decade ago, NYHealth initiated our program on veterans’ health by commissioning the RAND Corporation to conduct a statewide needs assessment.
The study produced important findings, including the identification of significant unmet needs for mental health care, and established an enduring theme to guide NYHealth’s strategy: building community-based health and mental health services that veterans said they wanted and needed. This work resonated beyond NYHealth, and many national, State, and local stakeholders have used the assessment to improve services for veterans and their families. It is time to revisit and update the assessment, as the landscape for veterans has evolved substantially, including new health and health care issues, policy changes, and different options for accessing care. These shifts are coupled with a recent traumatic period for veterans prompted by the ongoing pandemic, the 20th anniversary of 9/11, and the violent and chaotic U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. To guide our future work, an updated needs assessment will identify improvements that have been made over time, as well as remaining or new gaps in services. In 2022, NYHealth awarded RAND a grant to conduct an up-to-date assessment that examines the health, mental health, and social service needs of New York State’s veteran community.
Under this grant, RAND will design and implement the assessment and offer recommendations for policy and programmatic changes as well as for future investments to address the health and social service needs of New York State’s veterans. It will conduct in-depth interviews with policymakers, stakeholders, and representatives from veteran-serving organizations, which will inform the development of new survey questions and ensure they are grounded in the current realities and issues in New York State. It will design and implement a survey tool that will also draw on questions from prior veteran surveys and those from NYHealth’s original needs assessment, allowing for comparisons over time. It will identify a representative sample of the State’s veterans and ask them about various aspects of their health, mental health, social support, employment, and housing as well as their use and perceptions of services from VA and elsewhere. RAND will then analyze the results to characterize available services and programs across the State, assess how the landscape has changed, and identify gaps in services. Finally, it will summarize results and recommendations in a publicly available report that will be disseminated broadly to key stakeholders across New York State and nationally.