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Research Questions

  1. What are the demographic characteristics of post-9/11 veteran single parents and how do they compare with veteran coupled parents and nonveteran single parents?
  2. How do veteran single parents compare with nonveteran single parents and veteran coupled parents in terms of financial stability?
  3. How do veteran single parents compare with nonveteran single parents and veteran coupled parents in terms of mental and physical health and health care access?

The demographics of the veteran population are changing. Veterans who served after September 11, 2001 (post-9/11 veterans), are more likely to be female and identify as a person of color than their older counterparts. They are also more likely to be raising children, many of them without support from a partner. This report provides a comprehensive look at the financial, physical, and mental health of veteran single parents; explores the differences across these factors by race, ethnicity, and gender; and includes recommendations on policies and programs that can better support veteran single parents and their children.

Key Findings

  • Veteran single parents are more likely to be women and less likely to be White than veteran coupled parents.
  • Veteran single parents face greater financial insecurity than veteran coupled parents but have greater financial security than nonveteran single parents.
  • Veteran single parents report relatively similar mental and physical health to veteran coupled parents but lower access to health care services.
  • Veteran single parents are using their G.I. Bill benefits to pursue higher education; Black and Hispanic single mothers report the highest rates of school enrollment across all veteran single parents.
  • Veteran single parents enrolled in higher education reported significant barriers to using their G.I. Bill benefits and achieving academic success.


  • Create transition services that target single parents as a unique group.
  • Provide financial support for child care for veterans.
  • Rethink elements of the G.I. Bill to better support veteran single parents (and parents in general) who are pursuing higher education (e.g., address in-person attendance requirements and part-time attendance disincentives, which are key barriers for single parents).
  • Develop targeted outreach to connect single mothers with mental health care and encourage single fathers to seek out primary care.

Research conducted by

Funding for this publication was made possible by a generous gift from Daniel J. Epstein through the Epstein Family Foundation, which established the RAND Epstein Family Veterans Policy Research Institute within RAND Education and Labor.

This report is part of the RAND research report series. RAND reports present research findings and objective analysis that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors. All RAND reports undergo rigorous peer review to ensure high standards for research quality and objectivity.

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