• Served, Sacrificed, Yet Struggling: 1 in 5 Wisconsin Veterans Living in Financial Hardship

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    November 14, 2022

    WISCONSIN RAPIDS, WI – They’ve served and sacrificed for our country yet nearly one quarter — 21% — of Wisconsin’s 303,536 veterans struggle to afford the basics, according to a new report from United Way of South Wood & Adams Counties and its research partner United For ALICE.


    In 2019, while only 5% of the state’s veterans were deemed in poverty, another 16% — over 3 times as many — were ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed). ALICE households earn more than the Federal Poverty Level, but not enough to live and work in the modern economy. Combined, 21% of Wisconsin’s veterans were below the ALICE Threshold of Financial Survival, with income that doesn’t meet the basic costs of housing, child care, health care, transportation and a smartphone plan.


    “Our freedom comes with the responsibility to ensure that those who have served and sacrificed don’t struggle to make ends meet once they return home,” said United Way of South Wood & Adams Counties CEO Tari Jahns. “Although veterans do have additional supports not afforded to nonveterans, clearly there’s still room for improvement.”


    The ALICE in Focus: Veterans report and interactive tools reveal that while veterans show lower rates of financial hardship than individuals who never served, Wisconsin’s veterans face some tougher financial hurdles than their counterparts in Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, and Minnesota.


    Of all Wisconsin veterans earning below the ALICE Threshold, 95% were over-burdened by the cost of renting or owning a home – tied for most among neighboring states. In addition, less than half had access to high-speed internet, again falling behind Wisconsin’s neighbors.


    Nonetheless, there are some lessons to be learned from the data, said United For ALICE National Director Stephanie Hoopes, Ph.D. The state’s veterans are slightly better off than nonveterans with 21% struggling to make ends meet compared to 24% of adults who never served.


    “Veterans have higher rates of full-time employment, are more likely to be homeowners and have more comprehensive health insurance coverage and disability benefits,” Hoopes said. “This suggests that the supports afforded veterans are making a difference and could provide invaluable insights for developing strategies that help nonveterans facing financial hardship.”


    Other findings from ALICE in Focus: Veterans include:

    1.       Racial and ethnic inequities persist with 34% of Black veterans and 16% of Hispanic veterans living below the ALICE Threshold compared to 20% of White veterans and 13% of Asian veterans.

    2.       Veterans with disabilities struggled more to afford the basics — 32%—compared to 16% of veterans without disabilities.

    3.       Inequities also appear for Black and Hispanic veterans with disabilities — 49% and 13% lived below the ALICE Threshold respectively in comparison with 32% of white veterans with disabilities.

    4.       While working, veterans still experience financial hardship with 7% of veterans with full-time employment living below the ALICE Threshold and 23% of veterans working part time.

    5.       Of veterans who graduated high school but had not completed post-secondary education, 24% were living below the ALICE Threshold.


    More data is available through the ALICE in Focus: Veterans interactive data dashboard, which provides filters for regional and local geographies, age, race, disability status, living arrangements, work status and proximity to military bases. Visit UnitedForALICE.org/Focus-Veterans.


    ALICE in Focus: Veterans marks the third installment in the ALICE in Focus Research Series, which draws from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS) Public Use Microdata Samples (PUMS). Each installment in the series highlights a specific segment within the ALICE demographic. The other installments focused on children and people with disabilities.


    About United Way of South Wood & Adams Counties

    United Way of South Wood & Adams Counties is focused on the building blocks of a better life:  Education, Financial Stability, Health and Safety Net Services.  We mobilize our community in these areas by: supporting partner programs, community coalitions, and initiatives; providing 2-1-1 and Volunteer Center programs; and creating collaborative partnerships within our community.

    You can help when you LIVE UNITED:  Give, Advocate and Volunteer.  To learn more please visit www.uwswac.org


    About United For ALICE 

    United For ALICE is a driver of innovation, research and action to improve life across the country for ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) and for all. Through the development of the ALICE measurements, a comprehensive, unbiased picture of financial hardship has emerged. Harnessing this data and research on the mismatch between low-paying jobs and the cost of survival, ALICE partners convene, advocate and collaborate on solutions that promote financial stability at local, state and national levels. This grassroots ALICE movement, led by United Way of Northern New Jersey, has spread to 24 states and includes United Ways, corporations, nonprofits and foundations in Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawai‘i, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, Washington, D.C., West Virginia and Wisconsin; we are United For ALICE. For more information, visit: UnitedForALICE.org

    Ben Eberlein, Community Engagement Director
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