A majority of Americans don't think the U.S. government or American businesses are doing enough to help veterans, and few believe that charities are doing enough to help cover those unmet needs, according to a survey released Wednesday.
Officials behind the research say the findings show both a lack of awareness of support services available to veterans and a lack of confidence that service members are being set up for success when they leave the ranks.
"One of the challenges we face is that a lot of corporations and groups are doing great things to help veterans, but we typically are only talking to veterans about it," said Fred Wellman, CEO and founder of the communications and advocacy firm ScoutComms, which partnered on the poll.
"We're not doing an effective job informing the American public."
The survey, conducted earlier this month by the research firm Ipsos, found that fewer than one in four had a favorable view of government efforts to support veterans. Conversely, 26 percent of respondents had a "highly unfavorable" view of the federal outreach.
The biggest area for improvement respondents identified was providing health care services for veterans. The Veterans Affairs Department has battled numerous care delay scandals for the past 18 months, including records manipulation accusations that forced the resignation of former VA Secretary Eric Shinseki.
Almost half of those questioned said they believe troops are not prepared to succeed in the civilian workforce when they leave the military, and only 13 percent said they think corporations are doing enough to support veterans.
That perception comes despite data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics that have shown veterans unemployment staying consistently below the national jobless rate, and despite a rush of corporate and federal programs in recent years to ease that transition.
Wellman said many firms he works with are reluctant to advertise their outreach for fear of looking crass or exploitative, even though more awareness of those efforts often would lead to better understanding of veterans' needs and challenges.
"There's a disconnect between those of us working with veterans and what the American public sees," Wellman said.
Among charities and nonprofits, support for veterans is even less well known. The survey shows that 23 percent of respondents think those groups are providing critical help to veterans, 34 percent think they are not — and 43 percent say they don't know enough about those efforts to make a judgement.
The survey includes responses from roughly 1,000 adults online, with a margin of error of about 3.5 percent. Full results are available at the ScoutComms website.
Officials from ScoutComms and Ipsos said they hope to conduct similar polls in coming months, to gauge public awareness on issues like mental health, women in combat, LGBT rights and veteran education benefits.
Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, D.C. since 2004, focusing on military personnel and veterans policies. His work has earned numerous honors, including a 2009 Polk award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism award and the VFW News Media award.