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Bob Woodruff Foundation Releases Original Research Paper Analyzing the Impact of COVID-19 On The Veteran Community

by | Apr 2, 2020 | Because You Served, News

Bob Woodruff interviews a Navy pilot aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln in 2003.


While the lasting consequences of COVID-19 are still being determined, all Americans have experienced changes to their daily lives as a result of this global pandemic. COVID-19 stands to have a significant effect on our nation’s veterans, while also threatening the viability of organizations that exist to serve them.

The Bob Woodruff Foundation has published an original research paper, Veterans and COVID-19: Projecting the Economic, Social, and Mental Health Needs of America’s Veterans, analyzing the specific needs of the veteran community related to the coronavirus. This paper details the potential acute and long-term impacts for our veterans including mental health challenges, economic concerns, and changes in the veteran-serving organization landscape.

The Bob Woodruff Foundation (BWF) finds, funds, and shapes innovative programs that help America’s impacted veterans, their families, and caregivers thrive. The insights and recommendations in this paper took shape through BWF’s analysis of several data sets, including from the Census, Centers for Disease Control, Moody’s Analytics, Brookings, and a proprietary data set from the foundation’s Local Partner Self-Assessment Tool (LPSAT). The LPSAT, funded through a generous investment by Craig Newmark Philanthropies, is a unique platform representing 3,000 organizations serving veterans in 110 communities across 45 states.  

The goal of this paper is to offer insights and recommendations to community leaders, employers, policymakers, philanthropists, and the general population seeking to understand the most pressing needs for our veterans during COVID-19. The full results of this initiative can be found in our recently published paper, Veterans and COVID-19: Projecting the Economic, Social, and Mental Health Needs of America’s Veterans.

Guided by the findings and critical needs outlined in the paper, BWF will continue to raise funds actively to support veterans and their families, both during the COVID-19 crisis and beyond. BWF plans to expand its grantmaking efforts in 2020 as it pursues a first round of incremental support, up to $10 million dollars.

“While COVID-19 is impacting all of us, our mission is to keep the public’s eye on the needs of our veterans, caregivers, and military families – especially during these particularly trying times,” said Anne Marie Dougherty, CEO of the Bob Woodruff Foundation. “These insights represent an opportunity to shine a spotlight on the most pressing needs of those who have served and take a data-driven approach to addressing those issues.”

The foundation has determined that a large number of veterans are likely to become unemployed at rates that could exceed the highest level of veteran unemployment in the post-9/11 era. A significant portion of veterans within the workforce are employed in the industries most likely to experience immediate layoffs.

Findings show that emergent trauma, loneliness due to social isolation, and unplanned wage loss or job termination can create or exacerbate mental health challenges for veterans. Accessing mental health services was already an area of concern for the veteran population, and now, there may be a surge in demand for these resources.

“COVID-19 could create a “perfect storm” of developments that could threaten the mental health of many veterans,” said Dr. Rajeev Ramchand, epidemiologist, inaugural Craig Newmark Fellow at the Bob Woodruff Foundation, and author of the research paper.

Normally, tens of thousands of American organizations that serve veterans provide critical programs and services to address employment, mental health, and financial literacy concerns. However, these organizations often have limited financial resources and their continued existence is threatened by COVID-19. The insights developed by the foundation include recommendations for helping these groups ensure sustainability through this crisis.

“We are indebted to those veterans and military families who risk so much to protect the rest of us at home,” said Craig Newmark, founder of craigslist and Craig Newmark Philanthropies, and Bob Woodruff Foundation Board Member. “The Bob Woodruff Foundation’s research gives us a clearer picture of what their needs are during this crisis, and even offers ideas for how we can help.”

“I am optimistic that we are doing our part to help by ensuring that veteran-serving organizations and influencers have access to important information and resources to help them address the most urgent and long-term needs of our veterans, caregivers, and military families,” Ramchand added.

The full report, Veterans and COVID-19: Projecting the Economic, Social, and Mental Health Needs of America’s Veterans, was developed by lead author and the inaugural Craig Newmark Fellow at the Bob Woodruff Foundation, Dr. Rajeev Ramchand, in partnership with BWF’s Chief Program Officer, Dr. Margaret Harrell, BWF’s Chief Growth and Marketing Officer, Marshall Lauck, and the President of National Veterans Intermediary (NVI), Nancy Berglass.


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