Supporting America's Veterans: RAND Weekly Recap


Nov 11, 2022

RAND Weekly Recap

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.

A cryptologic technician identifies radar contacts in the combat information center aboard the USS Barry during the bilateral exercise Resilient Shield 2022, photo by Ensign Emilio Mackie/U.S. Navy

Photo by Ensign Emilio Mackie/U.S. Navy

Helping Veterans Succeed in Civilian Jobs

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.

Col. Anthony L. Wilson congratulates Troopers after their successful completion of a spur ride, November 22, 2021, photo by SFC Gary Cooper/U.S. Army

Col. Anthony L. Wilson congratulates Army Troopers after they completed a “spur ride,” a multiday series of physical and mental challenges, November 22, 2021

Photo by SFC Gary Cooper/U.S. Army

Is Military Service Linked to Better Quality of Life for Black Americans?

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.

Interior of Dog Tag Bakery with people ordering at the counter and sitting at tables, photo courtesy of Dog Tag Inc.

Patrons inside Dog Tag Bakery in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C.

Photo courtesy of Dog Tag Inc.

Dog Tag Bakery: A Fresh Start for Veterans

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.

Dwayne Butler, senior management scientist at RAND, photo by Dori Walker/RAND Corporation

Dwayne Butler is a senior management scientist at RAND. His latest research focused on helping the U.S. military promote diversity, equity, and inclusion

Photo by Dori Walker/RAND Corporation

Q&A with Army Veteran and RAND Researcher Dwayne Butler

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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