This week, we discuss RAND insights on veterans' issues; the limitations of Israel's ground offensive in Gaza; how the effects of war can be contagious; AI's potential effects on geopolitics; what educators look for in STEM afterschool programs; and why gender diversity matters in military missions.
As the country prepares to honor the millions of men and women who have served in the U.S. military, a new RAND factbook should be of interest to all those working on helping veterans. This resource highlights information on veteran demographics, mental health, labor market outcomes, and more. Here are some of the noteworthy findings:
- Veterans are declining as a percentage of the overall population. On average, they’re older, more likely to be male, and less racially or ethnically diverse than the nonveteran population. However, the population of post-9/11 veterans is younger, more diverse, and more educated than earlier cohorts.
- Younger veterans were more likely than nonveteran peers to receive mental health treatment, whereas older veterans were less likely than their nonveteran peers.
- The prevalence of binge drinking and alcohol use disorder was numerically higher for veterans than for nonveterans.
- Veterans have lower unemployment rates than their nonveteran peers.
These findings and others from our factbook can help shape policies that address veterans’ needs, close gaps in support, and foster better understanding of the veteran population and their families.
More RAND Insights on Veterans' Issues
- Psychedelics are emerging as a potentially effective treatment for conditions such as PTSD and depression. RAND researchers examined the evolving legal and policy landscape surrounding psychedelics and what it might mean for veteran mental health.
- A recent RAND study reveals important data about veterans and food insecurity: Around 1.4 million veterans struggle to get the food they need, but more than one-third are not covered by the government's main food-assistance program.
- The veteran population includes 2 million women—and that number is growing. RAND experts considered how to improve support for women veterans, noting that a one-size-fits-all approach often fails to meet women's needs.
- Estimates have found that millions of veteran households spend more than half their income on housing costs. A recent RAND report examined the number of veterans who experience financial burden from housing costs and how these estimates have changed over time.
- An estimated 8 percent of the 2.2 million people incarcerated in America’s jails and prisons are veterans. A recent RAND paper identifies opportunities to better support this group, including interventions to help prevent veterans from entering the criminal justice system in the first place.
- As the veteran population ages, long-term care will make up an increasingly large share of VA health care spending. RAND researchers considered what policies can help ensure that these veterans have home and community-based services that allow them to “age in place.”
Weeks after terrorist attacks left 1,400 Israelis dead, Israel began its ground offensive in Gaza. According to RAND's Raphael Cohen, this campaign could offer Israel the chance to wrest the Gaza Strip from Hamas's control, potentially breaking the cycle of wars that has plagued the region for almost two decades. But it’s essential to acknowledge the limitations of the operation, Cohen says. “Achieving a long-term solution in Gaza will require that Israel's ground offensive be followed by what will be an equally intensive and arguably more challenging task: rebuilding.”
As observers around the world flock to social media seeking information about the Israel-Hamas war, they may encounter graphic images that can have serious negative impacts on their mental health and well-being. The global health effects of such secondary trauma are only just beginning, says RAND's Douglas Yeung, a social psychologist. “Like its casualties, they will likely be staggering. Social media companies could and should do more to moderate the virality of such content.”
Nations across the globe could see their power rise or fall depending on how they harness and manage the development of artificial intelligence. A new RAND paper considers the ways that AI could transform geopolitics. The authors look at how countries and tech companies may clash as they compete for power, the race for AI dominance between the United States and China, regulatory challenges, and more. “We are entering an era of both enlightenment and chaos,” they write.
Afterschool programs in general—and STEM-focused programming in particular—are beneficial for students and popular among educators and parents. RAND researchers conducted a survey to learn more about how principals and school district leaders partner with STEM organizations to conduct such programs. Notably, respondents want to be able to offer more STEM afterschool programming, but they say that it's challenging to find high-quality providers—and the funding to pay for them.
The Women, Peace, and Security Act was established in 2017 to promote the inclusion of women in overseas conflict prevention, management, and resolution, as well as post-conflict relief and recovery. (The policy framework was updated just last month, with potential implications for how the United States responds to the current Israel-Hamas conflict.) A recently published RAND report highlights why this legislation—and gender diversity overall—is key for U.S. military operations, activities, and investments.
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