In honor of Veterans Day, we discuss how to better support U.S. service members as they transition to civilian life; new research on the link between military service and quality of life among Black Americans; a unique veterans program run out of a bakery; and a Q&A with Dwayne Butler, one of many veterans who are RAND researchers.
Around 200,000 service members make the leap to the civilian workforce every year. Many find it's like falling into another dimension where employers don't even speak the same language.
To better understand the challenges veterans face in the civilian job market, RAND researchers analyzed data on more than 1 million enlisted service members who had left the military between 2002 and 2010. The findings were surprising: Veterans coming from some military occupations could make nearly four times more than veterans coming from others.
For example, a male Air Force veteran with less than 20 years of enlisted service could make nearly $80,000 in his first year out of uniform—if he specialized in geospatial intelligence. If he worked in the aerospace medical service, he'd barely scratch $20,000.
These findings can help the military provide more support for departing service members who need it the most. After all, every veteran has valuable skills that will translate to the civilian workplace. Some are just easier to translate than others.
A new RAND report finds that Black veterans have more-positive life outcomes—higher incomes and higher rates of home ownership, for example—than Black people who are not veterans. However, Black Americans still fare worse than white Americans in many areas. “It's clear that a lot needs to be done to improve the health and well-being of all Black people and other marginalized populations,” said report coauthor Stephanie Brooks Holliday.
Dog Tag Bakery in Washington, D.C., is known for its brownies and butterscotch blondies. But it doesn't just serve sweet treats; it serves an entire community of veterans. Dog Tag is a living business school where veterans and other members of the military community can learn how to run their own company. When RAND researchers interviewed dozens of people who went through the program, every one of them described it as transformative.
RAND's Dwayne Butler served for 20 years in the U.S. Army. He was a battalion commander in Iraq, a logistics officer, the executive officer of a commission investigating care at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, and a speechwriter for the chief of staff of the Army. In a new Q&A, Butler discusses how his military experiences influence the work he does at RAND, important findings from his research, and what motivates him.
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