Date of Conferral
Public Policy and Administration
Anne J. Hacker
In public policy literature, there is a lack of research that integrates social construction theory within the advocacy coalition framework, and far less is known about how these theories address policy change and processes related to programs for disabled veterans.The purpose of this study was to conduct a policy analysis to evaluate how well the needs of veterans are met through the U.S. Veterans' Disability Compensation (USVDC) program. In a case study of a city in the southeastern U.S., gaps between formulation and implementation of USVDC policy were examined. The theoretical frameworks used in this study were Hacker's formulation and implementation gap to analyze policy, Schneider and Ingram's conceptualization of social construction, and Sabatier and Weible's advocacy coalition framework. The central research question for this study explored the extent to which the USVDC program meets the needs of disabled veterans (DVs). Data consisting of over 355 USVDC formulation and implementation documents, from March 2007 through August 2013, were coded using a priori codes and content analysis methodology.Findings indicate the USVDC policy subsystem struggled to manage the claims backlog that grew to over one million claims. Between April 2013 and September 2013, an emphasis to reduce the claims backlog improved stalled policy formulation, resulting in a shift to positive social constructions for DVs.Implications for positive social change include improved collaboration between policy makers, the Veterans' Administration, and recently transitioned target group DVs, to reshape policy formulation and implementation to further improve the quality of life for sick and injured veterans when entering the USVDC policy subsystem.