Dispatches

Army Brings Analysis of Human Need to Capitol Hill

Leads policy briefing on rural and urban poverty

Mr. Tony Thompson and Commissioner David Hudson welcome attendees.

The first Public Policy Briefing held by The Salvation Army focused on tangible and intangible aspects of Rural and Urban Poverty in America and how to better address these ongoing national concerns. Under the leadership of Commissioner David Hudson, National Commander, a panel of experts joined by Senator Tim Scott (R) of South Carolina highlighted the unique perspective the Army’s Human Needs Index (HNI) gives on poverty (http://humanneedsindex.org).

The HNI is a measurement of services provided by the Army in localities across the country. It can provide policy makers with current data to use in decision making, and bring the Army into the conversation about how to improve the lives of the people it serves.

Speakers at the briefing in the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington DC on September 28 included Dr. Amir Pasic, Eugene R. Tempel Dean at Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. The school works with the Army to manage the HNI. Dr. Pasic explained that the tool provides unique real time measurements at the community level in such areas as meals, groceries, furniture and clothing distributed, housing and medical assistance accessed and requests for help with energy costs. He detailed how the HNI identifies rural areas that are underserved by poverty alleviation programs, so that efforts can be directed efficiently to help those in need. Lt. Colonel Ron Busroe, National Community Relations secretary, pointed out that the Army is often one of the few sources of support through its presence in these communities. 

Dr. Amir Pasic and Captain Indrani Bhatnagar.

Panel member Mr. Tony Thomson, former CEO of Krispy Kreme Doughnuts now serving as a member of the Army’s National Advisory Board, emphasized that one key method for addressing human need is the formation of partnerships between agencies, public services and corporations to provide access to proven strategies for engaging people in meaningful, work and self-improvement. Panel member Mr. John Lettieri, co-founder of the Economic Innovation Group, stressed the importance of using HNI data to improve the analysis of human need and to find efficient ways of delivering support that addresses particular needs in communities. Senator Scott spoke about his efforts in Congress to provide resources for communities that would benefit the infrastructure and build sustainable enterprises. He concurred with fellow panel members that forming partnerships among government, agencies and the private sector, and encouraging investment of human capital by establishing mentoring relationships, are crucial to delivering aid to the disenfranchised so they can find true hope and renewal. Captain Indrani Bhatnagar, corps officer for the Army in Washington DC, reported that she saw first hand how young people are ready and able to respond positively to such mentoring opportunities. Children she worked with while she was stationed in Mississippi blossomed as they formed relationships with civic representatives such as policemen, firemen and local business and agency leaders. 

Senator Scott went on to thank The Salvation Army for what it does at the grass roots to improve people’s lives, equating it to Paul’s words in I Corinthians 3:6: “Each of us does the work the Lord gives us. Some plant, some water, and God makes it grow.”

Mr. John Lettieri and Senator Tim Scott.
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Commissioner Hudson closed the briefing by emphasizing the need to give people reason to hope, for without it little else can be accomplished. He saw the occasion as an opportunity to give voice to the 25+ million people that the Army serves each year. 

Following the briefing Commissioner Hudson met individually with members of Congress to discuss what the Army is doing across the country for those the Army serves, such as the Pathway of Hope initiative to end the cycle of intergenerational poverty. 

Mr. Jeff McDonald is the Editorial Director, USA National Publications.

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