Cover: Ten Frequently Asked Questions About Veterans' Transitions

Ten Frequently Asked Questions About Veterans' Transitions

Results of a Decade of RAND Work on Veteran Life

Published May 23, 2016

by Christopher Guo, Julia Pollak, Melissa Bauman

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Research Questions

  1. Are veterans disadvantaged in the civilian labor market?
  2. What government policies and programs have been successful with veteran employment?
  3. What do veterans experience when returning to school?
  4. How widespread and costly are mental health problems among servicemembers and veterans?

The transition from military service to the civilian world can be very challenging, particularly for young veterans with no prior civilian work experience and those with injuries or disabilities. As part of their duty to care for the men and women who have served the country in uniform — as well as to promote strong member recruitment in the future — the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs seek to monitor and improve the education and employment opportunities and the health and well-being of military veterans and reservists. Over the past decade, the RAND Corporation has proactively pursued a program of research addressing veterans' transitions to the civilian labor market. This document compiles RAND's body of work on this topic and highlights the breadth of topics RAND has studied. It distills more than a decade's worth of research on many facets of veteran life into a set of ten questions and answers gleaned from this work.

Key Findings

  • Both current servicemembers and veterans earn more than demographically comparable civilians.
  • Veterans make excellent employees, but many employers report having trouble locating and hiring veterans, and some have difficulty understanding how various military skills might match civilian job requirements.
  • For-profit schools provide the flexibility and services that veterans need, but deceptive practices, high dropout rates, and lower post-graduation employment rates may diminish their effectiveness in some cases.
  • Only half of those who sought mental health care received minimally adequate treatment, but there is evidence that the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder on productivity and earnings may be smaller than previously thought.

The compilation of this report was sponsored by the Office of the Secretary of Defense and conducted within the Forces and Resources Policy Center, part of the RAND National Defense Research Institute (NDRI).

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