Honor Our Veterans by Protecting Their Access to SNAP

By Nune Phillips

Veterans Day is a time to honor the brave men and women who’ve served in our Armed Forces. As we recognize their contributions and sacrifices, we must also acknowledge their challenges transitioning to civilian life and the need for some to access income and work supports to make ends meet. 

Poverty among veterans has slowly increased over time. The rate varies significantly between states, ranging from 3.7 percent in Connecticut to an astonishing 20 percent in Puerto Rico. Among disabled veterans, there’s a striking gender disparity; 15.3 percent of females and 9.4 percent males are currently poor.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps) is a critical part of the U.S. safety net. SNAP is a nutrition assistance program that helps millions of individuals and families put food on the table each year, including nearly 1.5 million veterans who live in a household receiving SNAP.  A 2015 report from the Department of Veterans Affairs highlighted several key facts about SNAP’s important role in supporting veterans:

  • Around 7 percent of veterans live in a household receiving SNAP at some point in the year.
  • Younger veterans (ages 18-34) are more likely to live in a SNAP household than older veterans.
  • American Indian and Alaskan Native, Black, and Hispanic veterans are more likely than white veterans to live in a SNAP household.
  • Among veterans living in a SNAP household, 1 in 5 has a child in the home.

On this Veterans Day, we give thanks to those who’ve served our country, securing our freedom and way of life. But gratitude’s not enough. We have a responsibility to provide support to those currently in the military and those transitioning to civilian life. SNAP is our most far-reaching domestic anti-hunger program and it’s a crucial lifeline for many veterans and their families. We must ensure the program remains available to everyone who relies on it.