Cover: An Assessment of Fiscal Year 2013 Beyond Yellow Ribbon Programs

An Assessment of Fiscal Year 2013 Beyond Yellow Ribbon Programs

Published May 4, 2015

by Laura Werber, Jennie W. Wenger, Agnes Gereben Schaefer, Lindsay Daugherty, Mollie Rudnick


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Research Questions

  1. To what extent have BYR programs met their stated goals and been effective in supporting reserve-component service members and their families?
  2. What are some promising practices in the programs that could be transferred across the broader set of BYR programs?
  3. How could these programs as a whole improve their effectiveness?

In 2011, Congress appropriated funding to expand the Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program, authorizing "service- and state-based programs to provide access to service members and their families of all components." This supplemental funding — Beyond Yellow Ribbon (BYR) — supports programs that are intended to provide critical outreach services to personnel returning from deployments. BYR's overall goal is to ease service members' transition back into civilian life. In response to a congressional request to identify programs with strong records of success and to develop a nationwide set of promising practices, the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs asked the RAND Corporation to provide an assessment of 13 programs in the ten states that received fiscal year 2013 BYR funding. The objectives of RAND's study were to: (1) examine the extent to which BYR programs have met their stated goals and the degree to which they have been effective in supporting reserve-component service members and their families, (2) identify promising practices in the programs that could be transferred across the broader set of BYR programs, and (3) suggest ways to improve the effectiveness of those programs as a whole. In RAND's determination, nearly all of the BYR programs are at least partially meeting their goals. This report concludes with recommendations to program leadership and to Department of Defense and congressional policymakers as they consider general program oversight and future BYR funding allocations.

Key Findings

Nearly All of the BYR Programs Are at Least Partially Meeting Their Goals

  • The vast majority of programs that we evaluated have at least partially met their stated goals. In one instance, we determined that a program had not met its stated goals; in another instance, we lacked sufficient information to determine whether the program met its stated goal. In most cases when programs failed to meet goals, this was at least partly due to the goals being unclear or difficult to measure or because the program was very new. A lack of evidence that demonstrated progress toward a goal is also an issue for some programs.

Overall, Programs Are Implementing Many Promising Practices

  • The promising practices that we identified across the various programs include a close alignment between activities and goals; a single point of entry for clients; personalized, one-on-one services; geographically dispersed staff; activities that build long-term client skills; strong partnerships with other resource providers; strong partnerships with community organizations and employers; early engagement with mobilized units; broad and creative outreach strategies; strong technology-based tracking systems; and efforts to make programs replicable and sustainable.

Authors Identified Four Areas Across Programs That Could Be Improved

  • RAND found a few pressing areas for improvement upon which many of the programs can focus. These include a lack of well-defined, measurable goals; insufficient evidence of outcomes and impacts; insufficient outreach to the entire eligible population; and no contingency plan to account for BYR funding limitations.


  • Program leaders should develop meaningful, measurable goals; collect and learn from program data on effectiveness; ensure that programs are sustainable; and utilize practices associated with high-quality programs.
  • Department of Defense and congressional policymakers should address programs' concerns regarding BYR funding, clarify appropriate use of BYR funds, share promising practices across programs, and encourage programs to widen their focus beyond the National Guard.

This research was sponsored by the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs and conducted within the Forces and Resources Policy Center of RAND's RAND National Defense Research Institute, a federally funded research and development center sponsored by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, the Unified Combatant Commands, the Department of the Navy, the Marine Corps, the defense agencies, and the defense Intelligence Community.

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