There are not many factors more important to veteran’s long-term success than being able to call some place their home. A home provides a connection to the community, a sense of stability, and the promise of a strong future for veterans and their families. But for the roughly 200,000 veterans who transition from the military to the civilian world each year, navigating the ins and outs of the housing market and finding affordable housing can be overwhelming. The number of details a consumer is faced with can be confounding even for civilians experienced in the intricacies of buying or renting a home.
These complexities are just one reason why nearly 40,000 veterans are homeless . The majority are male, single, living in urban areas, and suffering from mental illness, alcohol and/or substance abuse, according to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans. Meanwhile, an additional 1.5 million veterans are considered at risk of homelessness due to poverty, lack of support networks, and dismal living conditions in overcrowded or substandard housing.
Whether it’s providing veterans access to affordable housing, providing introductions to the mortgage market, offering education on fair housing, foreclosure prevention, and pre-purchase preparation, or connecting homeless veterans with transitional and permanent housing, Dixon Center occupies a unique position as a central clearinghouse for the patchwork quilt of government and local and national veterans’ assistance programs. As a central clearinghouse, we work with a network of partners with national reach who also provide supportive services to counter the mental health and substance abuse challenges that often accompany homelessness.
The skills that made veterans successful in the military – leadership, teamwork, adaptability, and perseverance – are the same skills found in successful entrepreneurs. In fact, close to one-quarter of military members surveyed by the Small Business Administration and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York expressed a desire to start a business as their first career option after separating from the military. Unfortunately, that same survey also found that the number of veteran entrepreneurs is declining compared to their civilian counterparts, and this decline is even more pronounced among younger veterans. This decline reflects the challenges that veteran entrepreneurs in particular face – lack of access to financial capital as well as lack of social capital (access to investors, experts, and mentors).
Dixon Center is committed to reversing this decline through our advisory and training services. We connect programs focused on assisting veteran entrepreneurs with Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), a $150 billion industry that helps money flow to people and places that traditional financing opportunities overlook.
It is also important for lenders and investors to understand the potential that veteran entrepreneurs have as drivers of the economy. Dixon Center has trained financial managers, lenders, mentors, and others in how to leverage the entrepreneurial energy of veterans and assist them in overcoming the obstacles they face as they start a small business.
It is well known in military circles that veterans’ skills are highly transferrable to the civilian work world: precise communication, individual accountability, strong goal focus, natural leadership, and teamwork. Nearly one-third of veteran job seekers are underemployed —a rate 15.6% higher than non-veteran job seekers. Underemployment contributes to a higher turnover rate among veterans in their first civilian job compared to non-veterans. It creates scenarios where veterans and their families must live paycheck to paycheck and are unable to create the financial security necessary to be productive members of their communities.
Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Services is a proven leader in workforce development for veterans. Over the last seven years, Dixon Center and its partners have been instrumental to the expanding efforts to provide career-specific training on or near military installations across the country. This on-installation training provides high-paying, full benefit jobs to transitioning active duty, National Guard and Reserve component service members as well as their families. Through our advisory efforts, Dixon Center has ensured that these programs provide a pathway into the middle class, and ensured a level playing field with civilian counterparts, for more than 3,200 service members. All totaled, Dixon Center has impacted 149,600 individuals and organizations through our Workforce Development and Career Placement program since our inception in 2012.
Dixon Center offers solutions to bridge the civilian-military culture gap in order to inform and impact workplace hiring. Our Workforce Solutions educational program is designed to aid hiring managers across companies recruit and retain veterans and military family members. In 2018 alone we led seven sessions educating nearly 340 leaders on creating a culture that attracts and retains high-performing veterans.