Trustees of Purdue University
Military Family Research Institute: Reaching Rural Veterans
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, as many as 40 percent of veterans and military families have experienced food insecurity. Veterans living in rural areas have lower incomes, are in poorer health, and are disproportionately likely to have service-connected disability ratings above 50 percent and experience substance abuse and mental health conditions compared to their urban counterparts. They also are at elevated risk for social isolation and loneliness, which in turn exacerbate health problems. The Reaching Rural Veterans program (RRV) addresses food insecurity among low-resource veterans and their families in rural areas. RRV uses food assistance through local food banks and pantries as a gateway to address other critical services, including behavioral health, housing security, and state and federal veterans’ benefits. This BWF grant will support the implementation and evaluation of the RRV program in eight rural Indiana counties. Specifically, this grant will reduce food insecurity for 500 veterans, and reduce social isolation and strengthen connections to services and benefits for at least 300 low-resource veterans living in rural areas. BWF funding will also enable the Military Family Research Institute to gather rigorous experimental evaluation data to validate program outcomes and develop an implementation manual for dissemination to future partners.