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The Veterans’ Needs Assessment

The purpose of the veterans’ needs assessment is to address the concerns of military families regarding the assimilation of their family members into civilian life. In this regard, the study investigates veterans’ needs in managing adverse outcomes of military services, such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental health issues, prior to their discharge into society (Soriano, 2013). By doing so, the study would help veterans to handle the emotional problems associated with post-traumatic stress disorder and any other challenge that may affect their ability to start a civilian life (Schell & Tanielian, 2011).

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The key assessment questions that a researcher could ask include

  • What do you think about the challenges you face as a veteran?
  • Do you know where you could get health services as a veteran?
  • Do you know who is eligible for veteran health services?
  • Do you know how to apply for veteran health services, or not?

These questions are important in conducting a needs assessment for understanding how veterans would cope with civilian life because other researchers have identified them as some of the barriers affecting access to veterans’ health services (Schell & Tanielian, 2011).

Some of the key stakeholders and collaborators in the assessment include,

  • Medical and health facilities that offer services to Veterans
  • Families of veterans
  • Veteran associations
  • Religious groups and organizations
  • Government (state and federal)

These stakeholders are important in conducting a needs assessment of veterans because they could play a facilitative or inhibitive role when managing veteran affairs. For example, religious groups and organizations play a role in influencing the beliefs, values and attitudes of veterans towards some of the health challenges they face as ex-military personnel (Thein et al., 2009). Similarly, the government could play a pivotal role in making policy changes that would further increase the veterans’ access to health services or the amount of funding that goes to their health services.

The nature of the research investigation is mainly qualitative. Within this framework, the possible data collection methods a researcher could use for the needs assessment are interviews, focus groups, observations, ethnography, and action research. Based on the variety of data collection methods outlined above, the commanding officer and other key stakeholders are likely to prefer certain types of data collection methods to others, based on the merit of each method. Interviews would be the most preferable method for the study because it effectively collects detailed data. Particularly, it would be useful in the perspective assessment because it is not only able to collect hard and factual data, but also emotional information about the participants’ perspectives on the research questions (Thein et al., 2009). However, while interviews may be effective in gathering qualitative information, they could be time-consuming. Stakeholders who may be concerned about this issue may choose to use focus group discussions as an alternative data collection technique because they equally contain detailed information (as interviews do), but are more effective in gathering information about group feelings, perceptions, and opinions (Soriano, 2013). Stakeholders who are concerned with time and financial considerations are also likely to choose this data collection method because it saves time and money compared to individual interviews (Soriano, 2013). Furthermore, based on their design, focus groups could provide researchers with a broad range of information about the research topic. In this regard, researchers could get multiple views about the same research question.

References

Schell, T., & Tanielian, T. (Eds.). (2011). A needs assessment of New York state Veterans final report to the New York State Health Foundation. Santa Monica, CA: Rand Corporation.

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Soriano, F. I. (2013). Conducting needs assessments: A multidisciplinary approach (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Thein, K., Zaw, K. T., Teng, R., Liang, C., & Julliard, K. (2009). Health needs in Brooklyn’s Chinatown: A pilot assessment using rapid participatory appraisal. Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved, 20(2), 378–394.

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