Nearly one in four Virginia veterans is struggling to afford basics, according to a new report by Rappahannock United Way and its research partner United For ALICE.
The report is based on 2019 numbers showing 649,113 veterans residing in the state. (At a recent event in Spotsylvania County, Virginia Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs Craig Crenshaw said the state currently has about 700,000 veterans.)
While 4% of Virginia veterans met the federal poverty line in 2019, five times that number were defined as living in ALICE households, according to the report. ALICE stands for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed and represents people who earn less than it costs to live and work in the modern economy.
Local veterans performed better than the national average, according to ALICE in Focus: Veterans. The report is available at UnitedForALICE.org/Focus-Veterans.
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Of the 20,137 veterans in Fredericksburg and Caroline, King George, Spotsylvania and Stafford counties as of 2019, an estimated 14% were struggling with the costs of housing, child care, health care, transportation and a smartphone plan, according to the report.
The breakdown showed that 17,375 local veterans live above the ALICE threshold while 2,556 veterans are below. 206 of the veterans live in poverty, the report said.
“Freedom comes with responsibility to ensure those who have served and sacrificed do not have to struggle to make ends meet when they return home,” said Sarah Walsh, chief impact officer at Rappahannock United Way. “While veterans have additional support that laypeople cannot provide, there is clearly room for improvement.”
The report also shows that veterans are better off financially than those who never served. According to the report, while 24% of Virginia veterans are struggling financially, 34% of non-military adults are in the same boat.
There are some lessons to be learned from the data, said Stephanie Hoopes, national director of United For ALICE.
“Veterans have higher full-time employment, are more likely to be homeowners, and have broader health insurance coverage and disability benefits,” she said. “This suggests that the support provided to veterans is making a difference and could provide invaluable insights for developing strategies that help non-veterans who are struggling financially.”
Other findings from ALICE in Focus: Veterans show that racial and ethnic injustices persist. While 22% of white veterans lived below the ALICE threshold in 2019, the figure was 30% for black, 28% for Asian, and 25% for Hispanic veterans.
Veterans with disabilities had more trouble affording the basics. The rate was 35% for veterans with disabilities compared to 21% for veterans without disabilities.
Veterans still experienced financial hardship while on the job, as 13% of full-time employees and 36% of part-time employees were below the ALICE threshold.
Of those veterans who had completed high school but had not completed post-secondary education, 34% lived below the ALICE threshold.
Cathy Dyson: 540/374-5425
“Freedom comes with the responsibility to ensure that those who have served and sacrificed do not have to struggle to make ends meet when they return home.”
– Sarah Walsh, Rappahannock United Way