The nonprofit RAND Corp. announced Thursday the launch of the RAND Epstein Family Veterans Policy Research Institute to address issues facing veterans and military families.
Supported by a $10 million gift from the Epstein Family Foundation, the institute “will examine a wide array of topics, including housing, health and mental health care,” and will partner with the University of Southern California to conduct research, disseminate findings and educate stakeholders on ways to improve veteran outcomes, according to the Santa Monica-based think tank.
“We are extremely grateful for the vision and leadership of Dan Epstein for this transformative gift,” said RAND President and CEO Michael D. Rich. “He shares our belief that the most complex problems — such as reducing veteran suicide and ending veteran homelessness — require solutions guided by the best evidence, innovative analytic tools and sophisticated expertise.”
According to RAND, the institute’s core research agenda “will include analysis to better understand how military service and post-service experiences affect the short- and long-term needs of veterans and their families. Through partnerships with veterans and the community organizations that support them, the institute will pursue innovative research that informs veteran policy at the national and local levels.”
The institute will be guided by an advisory board and co-directed by senior health policy researcher Carrie Farmer, who has led multiple studies to assess the delivery of health care to veterans and service members, and senior behavioral scientist Rajeev Ramchand.
Farmer was the study director for a comprehensive assessment of the Veterans Health Administration, required by the Veterans, Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014, and is a member of the Department of Veterans Affairs National Research Advisory Council.
Ramchand is an epidemiologist who studies the prevalence, prevention and treatment of mental health and substance use disorders in servicemembers and veterans. He has conducted several projects about suicide in the military and co-directed the RAND study “Hidden Heroes: America’s Military Caregivers,” characterized by the nonprofit as the first representative analysis of military caregiving in the United States.
“It is gratifying that my gift will help RAND make a positive difference in the lives of veterans and their families,” said Epstein, founder of The ConAm Group. “RAND has a strong track record of research and analysis on the needs of veterans and caregivers. I believe that the collaboration among two premier research organizations — RAND and USC — will lead to solutions that address the special needs of our servicemembers.”
Epstein, who served in the U.S. Army, has made previous contributions in support of initiatives for veterans. A $1 million gift is supporting a joint RAND/USC research project about homeless veterans and how to place them in permanent housing.
Epstein also helped fund Veterans in America, a podcast about RAND research on veterans’ issues, and the inaugural RAND Congressional Fellowship in 2019-2020 within the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.
“Our nation has a sacred responsibility to care for the men and women who risk their lives in service to our country, and the quiet heroes who sacrifice and care for them,” said former U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, a member of the RAND Board of Trustees. “With this act of generosity by the Epstein family, RAND will have the sustained funding needed to help inform policies that support our veterans and military families.”