The Michigan Veterans Community Action Teams (MIVCAT) project is a collaborative community model created by the Altarum Institute to enhance the delivery of services from public, private, and nonprofit organizations to Veterans and their family members. The MIVCAT project was introduced in Michigan by the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency (MVAA) in August 2013, with pilots in two of Michigan’s ten Prosperity Regions – Detroit Metro Region 10, comprising Macomb, Oakland, and Wayne counties; and West Michigan Region 4, consisting of Allegan, Barry, Ionia, Kent, Lake, Mason, Mecosta, Montcalm, Muskegon, Newaygo, Oceana, Osceola, and Ottawa counties.
To discern the needs of Veterans and the services available to them, Altarum gathered information through several channels. Altarum conducted a community assessment that included interviews with key regional leaders, focus groups with Veterans, a survey of Veterans, and a survey of service providers. The focus groups with Veterans in Detroit Metro, reported here, collected information on: how Veterans find out about resources, services, and benefits; the best ways to reach Veterans; Veterans’ experiences with seeking services; sources of support for Veterans; and recommendations for improving the Veteran service system.
Altarum Institute conducted six focus groups as part of a community assessment for the MIVCAT project in the Detroit Metro Prosperity Region. There were two focus groups of primarily Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF)/Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) Veterans, two groups of primarily Vietnam-era Veterans, and two groups of women Veterans from multiple eras. Planning and recruiting for the focus groups was led by Altarum staff with support from regional coalition leaders. Four of the focus groups were held in Taylor, one in downtown Detroit, and one in Redford. Forty-two Veterans participated in the focus groups and all of these Veterans completed a survey that included questions about their background and characteristics.
Following are the key findings from the focus groups. Note that italicized text are direct quotes taken from transcripts of the focus groups. The words in brackets help clarify the meaning of the quotation by substituting a person’s position or organization for their name or adding information that was discerned from other parts of the interview or the tone used by the focus group participant.