Williamson’s Notes: Served, Sacrificed, Struggling 


They’ve bravely served and sacrificed for our country. Yet 36% of Southeast Louisiana’s veterans cannot afford basics in the nation they’ve so selflessly defended.

The latest ALICE in Focus: Veterans in Financial Hardship Research Brief and interactive dashboards from United For ALICE reveal that while 9% of veterans live in poverty, another 27% — 3 times as many — are ALICE® (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) and living paycheck to paycheck in our region.  

Disparities across Louisiana
ALICE data uncovers the harsh realities faced by these struggling veterans here at home and across the state. In 2019, 50% of veterans living in financial hardship in Louisiana spent at least 35% of their income on rent, stretching their budgets even thinner. And just 13% of veterans living paycheck to paycheck participated in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) – which means 70,100 may have gone to bed hungry. 

The research also sheds light on factors that may have made financial insecurity more likely for some veterans. For example:

●    42% of veterans with disabilities 
●    40% of veterans with a high school diploma only
●    46% of Black veterans
●    40% of Hispanic veterans 

…were all unable to afford basics in Louisiana.

See more about Louisiana veterans here.

What lessons can we learn?

But the ALICE in Focus research doesn’t stop there. While many veterans were struggling financially, the data shows that they fared overall better than nonveterans – with 36% of veterans statewide living in struggling households, compared to 43% of nonveterans. What makes the difference? Veterans are more likely to be employed full time, own a home, and have more comprehensive health insurance coverage and disability benefits. Learning what works for veterans can help inform action to improve the lives of all ALICE households in the state.

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. Although veterans have additional supports not afforded to nonveterans, clearly there’s still room for improvement.

Act with United Way to explore and share the data with others. Visit United4ALICE.org/ALICEVeterans.  

Together, with this information, we can create change for veterans in need and improve life for all. 

Living United,

Michael Williamson, President and CEOMichael Williamson
President and CEO
United Way of Southeast Louisiana