USF Sarasota-Manatee researchers will present their initial findings from a survey last fall of veterans in 10 Florida counties, including Sarasota and Manatee, to the Longboat Key Rotary Club on Nov. 5.
Thomas Becker, PhD, and Ramakrishna Govindu, PhD, both of USFSM, will discuss their work – which also involved former USFSM political science professor Eric Hodges, PhD – to better understand Florida veterans and their needs in order to identify services that would benefit them.
The surveys were administered online to veterans and their families in November 2018. After combing through the data to remove duplicate and incomplete responses, the researchers were left with about 4,200 “clean” surveys on which to focus their analysis.
The surveys consisted of 47 questions that focused on the adversity faced by veterans, veterans’ resilience and life goals, and the quality of their lives. They also inquired about demographic information and the veterans’ employment status, living arrangements and other factors.
By including veterans’ families in the surveys, the researchers hoped to gain a better understanding of the veterans’ adversity, resilience and overall quality of life.
While much research about veterans exists on a broad level nationally, this is believed to be the first study of veterans’ welfare conducted locally in Florida.
The researchers contacted veterans through the Bay Pines VA Healthcare System in Pinellas County, which mailed an electronic link for the survey to veterans on the system’s mailing list. The link went to veterans in 10 Central and Southwest Florida counties: Charlotte, Collier, Desoto, Hardee, Highlands, Hillsborough, Lee, Manatee, Pinellas and Sarasota.
The idea for the survey originated from a discussion about 18 months ago involving
former USFSM student Chris Nothdurft and Carl Hunsinger, chairman of the Manatee County
Veterans Council, a coalition of veterans organizations that represent about 40,000
Manatee County vets.
“The needs assessment of military veterans was initiated by Christopher Nothdurft, a U.S. Army veteran and recent graduate of the USFSM MBA program,” Becker said. “Chris’ work inspired the creation of the Veterans Research Coalition at USFSM and other veteran research initiatives.”
The coalition appointed Hodges as the survey’s project leader. The survey’s questions arose out of coalition meetings.
The researchers decided to present their findings to the Rotary after USFSM Regional Chancellor Karen A. Holbrook, PhD, who is a member of the club, was asked to suggest a speaker for its Nov. 5 meeting.
The researchers’ work was thought to be a timely and relevant topic given the nearness of Veterans Day on Nov. 11. The meeting is set to begin at 5 p.m. at All Angels Episcopal Church Hall, 563 Bay Isles Road, Longboat Key. In addition to Rotary Club members, it will be open to local veterans and media members.
“Our hope is that data from the surveys will both contribute to the science of veterans’ resilience and quality of life and enable more informed decisions about how to improve the lives of our local area veterans,” Becker said.