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Join us on June 1 as we kick off the 2022 Military Family Readiness Academy (MFRA) focusing on Family Well-Being: Navigating the Social Justice Landscape. The Academy series will address intersections between engaging a social justice mindset as a family service professional, and the ability to support the well-being of diverse military families, including caregivers.

How do Social Justice and Health Disparities Impact the Aging Community?

Disparities exist in many aspects of American health care. Among older Americans, health disparities vary by race, income, and gender. Older minority Americans have consistently been shown to have poorer health than whites of the same age group across measures of disease, disability, and self-assessed health (1). When compared to whites, elderly Latinos have higher rates of diabetes and disabilities (3), and older African Americans have more chronic conditions (4).

According to Barry Levy and Victor Sidel (2005), social justice encompasses two distinct ideas based on the underlying themes of justice, fairness, and equity. One is that individuals should not be denied economic, socio-cultural, political, civil, or human rights based on the perception of their inferiority by those with more power or influence (5). Second, society must act to ensure the conditions under which people can be healthy, in the form of policies and actions that affect societal conditions (5). The idea of social justice can be applied directly to all areas of health care, particularly access, diagnosis, and provision.

Several factors related to social injustice may lead to increased rates of disease, injury, disability, and death (1). These factors include poverty, inadequate education, lack of health insurance coverage, and limited availability of medical care (1). Advocates of social justice have stressed the importance of comprehensive health care services to aid every individual, regardless of income, geographic location, and racial identification (6). This mission is even more urgent for America’s elderly minority population, as reflected by the nation’s primary policies in health care. 

Implications for Caregivers

As policies are developed, special attention needs to be given to specific subpopulations and caregivers. The MFRA will have three courses that will assist providers and caregivers on this important topic of social justice and offer tips and resources for support.

Course One: Introduction to Social Justice Lenses for Family Well-Being, providers will be encouraged to reflect on their own experiences and begin to envision equitable pathways to well-being for the families they serve by putting theory into practice.

In Course Two: Recognizing and Responding to Inequities, providers, and caregivers will have an opportunity to discover ways of responding to institutional discrimination as it appears in organizational policy and in the management and practice of human services.

Finally, the MFRA course modules will wrap up with Course Three: Social Justice and Military Families where providers and caregivers will reflect on and identify strategies for using individual influence to incorporate social justice and well-being practices for military families as families navigate the additional complexities of military service.


  1. P. Anderson, G. Pierre, and T. Hilliard, “Social Justice, Health Disparities, and Culture in the Care of the Elderly,” Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics, (2012): 26-32.
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and The Merck Company Foundation, The State of Aging and Health in America 2007, Whitehouse Station, NJ, The Merck Company Foundation, 2007.
  3. S. Wallace and V. Villa, “Equitable Health Systems: Cultural and Structural Issues for Latino Elders,” American Journal of Law and Medicine 29, nos. 2-3 (2003): 247-267.
  4. Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), The Characteristics and Perceptions of the Medicare Population: Data from the 2000 Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey, Balti- more, MD, 2003.
  5. B. Levy and V. Sidel, Social Injustice and Public Health (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005)
  6. G. Outka, “Social Justice and Equal Access to Healthcare.” Journal of Religious Ethics 2, no. 1 (1974): 11-32.