Modeling Education Deserts for Veterans and Military Families in the Southern United States

Patricia Solís, Amal H. Aljaddani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Despite billions of dollars invested in educational benefits for veterans and active-duty military families under the U.S. Post-9/11 GI Bill, many prospective students are not forging pathways through public institutions of higher education, and funding is disproportionately spent on for-profit colleges. To reveal patterns of lack of access and opportunity, we propose a novel, robust analysis tailored to the situation of veterans and military families in the southern United States. This methodology delineates education deserts using fuzzy algorithms and multivariate spatial analysis to move beyond simple “hotspot” identification of distance from university locations. Results and comparisons of four models confirm different patterns for veterans versus nonveterans and show dynamic regional changes from 2005 through 2017 that reflect shifting demographics, economics, and educational offerings. These insights could inform a roadmap for outreach that accounts for shifting education deserts and potentially workforce opportunities through geographic analysis. This approach represents a potential first step for academic actors, especially in the public sector, who play a role in advancing science, technology, engineering, and math; geography; and geographic information systems to enable veteran and military families to better achieve equitable rates of educational attainment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1084-1107
Number of pages24
JournalAnnals of the American Association of Geographers
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2022


  • STEM
  • education deserts
  • fuzzy analysis
  • veterans

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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