States Explore Veterans Data

by Rachel Zinn
September 25, 2014

Six states contemplated ways to use data systems for improvement of veterans services at a National Governors Association (NGA) policy academy held this week in Washington, DC.

The event brought together state teams from Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nevada, Virginia and Wisconsin. These states are part of a demonstration to identify effective strategies for helping returning veterans obtain industry-recognized credentials and employment. The project is run by NGA and the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL).

WDQC helped facilitate a session that encouraged states to think creatively about utilizing data to measure the outcomes of their demonstration strategies, as well as to answer broader policy questions about veterans programs.

The session also included a panel with:

  • Jim Bedingfield, Utah Department of Veteran and Military Affairs, who discussed upgrades to data management and linkages that are allowing better outreach to veterans. Utah created a web-based system that pulls data from multiple sources to provide regularly updated electronic profiles on veterans. The system helps target outreach to veterans who are eligible for, but not receiving, benefits like job search assistance.

  • Phil Baker, Nebraska Department of Labor, who explained his state’s plans for incorporating veterans data into its developing workforce longitudinal data system. If data sharing agreements with Nebraska’s Department of Veterans Affairs are successful, the linked data could be used to identify veterans with barriers to employment for referral to services, assess the effectiveness of workforce development programs for veterans, and match veterans with occupations that require their skills.

  • Grace Roemer, Mathematica Policy Research, who described the four-state Army Unemployment Compensation for Ex-Servicemembers (UCX) Initiative that is linking data to improve services for unemployed veterans. For example, Georgia is working with the U.S. Military Academy at West Point to combine data on veterans’ educational background, participation in workforce programs and employment history to answer questions like: What is the effect of multiple deployments on veterans’ lifetime earnings? What factors contribute to long-term employability for veterans?

In the coming months, WDQC plans to participate in follow-up with participating states to monitor their success in measuring accelerated pathways that lead veterans to credential attainment and civilian careers.