Yesterday in Dallas, Texas, the George W. Bush Institute (GWBI) hosted a national summit of nearly 450 leaders in the veterans services landscape, including heads of government agencies, major foundations, corporate funders, nonprofit organizations, and think tanks, as well as veterans themselves. This second national summit hosted by the Bush Institute’s Military Service Initiative (MSI) caps off a year-long research project conducted by the MSI and the IVMF studying leading practices in veteran-serving nonprofit organizations.
Beginning early last spring, IVMF and GWBI partnered to identify 25 nonprofit organizations across the country representing a broad array of veterans’ service providers – housing, employment, education, wellness, financial assistance, wraparound services, etc. – focused both nationally and locally. This mix of organizations, young and old, large and small, focused on post-9/11 veterans and on all generations of veterans, was designed as a representative cross-section of the landscape of veterans’ services. Selecting these organizations from the roughly 45,000 listed in the Guidestar database as serving veterans and their families proved both and art and a science and yielded tremendous insights to the research project.
Over the past year, IVMF and GWBI conducted site visits with each organization, spending two days interviewing everyone from Presidents and CEOs to front-line programmatic staff who deliver services to veterans and their families every day. Interviews were transcribed, and case studies were written about each organization, resulting in an extensive cross-case analysis report identifying common themes and lessons learned from across the landscape.
The final outcome of the research process was three toolkits, one each for nonprofit organizations, funders, and veterans themselves, each designed to inform its target population regarding excellence in the field of service delivery. The nonprofit toolkit presents a framework for excellence and a self-assessment tool; the funder toolkit assists funders to tailor their giving strategies to the unique concerns of veterans, including an assessment tool for potential grantees; and the veterans toolkit serves as a roadmap, guiding them through the landscape of services and presenting them with a list of questions to ask to ensure they are getting top-notch services and care.
Yesterday’s summit served to highlight the yearlong research project and release these outcome products, though the veteran toolkit will be released at a later date this year. Throughout the day, former President Bush spoke with veterans about their transition successes and challenges; panelists discussed how organizations can deliver a successful transition for veterans; leaders identified what organizations need to do to get there; and experts in the field discussed the critical importance of collaboration and cooperation at the community level to foster the success of organizations and veterans themselves.
All of the research products released at yesterday’s summit can be retrieved here:
Photos from the summit can be viewed here: