The National Conference on Citizenship and Got Your 6 unveiled the findings of the first-ever Veterans Civic Health Index, a major study that reveals significant and positive trends in levels of civic engagement among veterans.
Findings from the report were highlighted this morning at an event at The National Press Club featuring Secretary Robert A. McDonald of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Got Your 6 managing director Chris Marvin, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D – Hawaii), and NCoC Executive Director Ilir Zherka, who were joined by leaders from national veteran-focused groups.
Among other data points, the Veterans Civic Health Index found:
Service – Veteran volunteers serve an average of 160 hours annually – the equivalent of four full workweeks. Non-veteran volunteers serve about 25% fewer hours annually.
Civic Involvement – 17.7% of veterans are involved in civic groups (versus 5.8% of non-veterans).
Voting – 59.5% of veterans under 50 vote in local elections, versus 48.7% of non-veterans under 50.
Community Engagement – Veterans are more likely to fill leadership roles in community organizations, attend community meetings and fix problems in their neighborhoods.
Got Your 6 is a campaign that unites nonprofit, Hollywood, and government partners, to empower America’s military veterans. Working in partnership with the National Conference on Citizenship (NCoC), Points of Light and American Express, the Got Your 6 campaign developed the Veteran Civic Health Index by examining data from the Census Current Population Survey from 2012 and 2013 relating to volunteering, political participation and social connectedness.
Civic health, defined as a community’s capacity to work together to resolve collective problems, has been shown to positively impact local GDP, public health, upward income mobility, and has other benefits that strengthen communities. By releasing this study, Got Your 6 and its partners aim to eliminate common misconceptions about veterans, while highlighting the civic strength of America’s returning servicemen and women.
“Service to our nation does not end when the uniform comes off, said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert A. McDonald. As proven leaders dedicated to public service, veterans are valuable assets. The Veterans Civic Health study highlights how those who continue to serve in their communities strengthen our nation.”
“Through our research, we have found that veteran status is a powerful predictor of civic engagement, which translates to tangible and measurable positive impacts in our communities,” said Chris Marvin, Army veteran and managing director of the Got Your 6 campaign. “Veterans return home from service hungry for their next mission and we, as a nation, should empower them to use their training to strengthen communities here at home.”
The findings of the Veteran Civic Health Index suggest that veterans strengthen communities through volunteering, engaging with local governments and community organizations, voting, and helping neighbors, all at rates higher than their non-military counterparts.
Additional key results include:
Income – Over the past eight years, veterans have consistently earned more than their non-veteran counterparts
Housing – Veterans only comprise 8.6% of the current homeless population, with non-veterans comprising 91.4%
Education – Veterans who participate in the GI Bill program complete their degree programs at a similar rate to the general population’s traditional postsecondary student.
Around a quarter of a million veterans return to communities across the nation each year, and Got Your 6 celebrates this as an enormous opportunity for the nation. Upon their return home, veterans should be met with high expectations and encouraged to continue their service in meaningful ways.
Got Your 6 will use the Veteran Civic Health Index to create a new dialogue in America, one that explores the unique experiences of America’s veterans, in efforts to foster understanding between veterans and civilians and build stronger communities.