Military Downsizing:

Persons Returning to Civilian Life Need More Help from DOD

HEHS-94-39: Published: Jan 21, 1994. Publicly Released: Jan 21, 1994.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the extent to which the Departments of Defense (DOD), Labor (DOL), and Veterans Affairs (VA) provide transition assistance services to separating members and their spouses.

GAO found that: (1) many separating service members and their spouses do not get timely transition services because the transition program does not receive adequate support from DOD, military service headquarters, and individual military unit commanders; (2) officials responsible for providing transition services often do not know what members are scheduled to separate; (3) separating service members are not provided information on their military experience and training that will enable them to seek employment in the private sector; (4) many separating service members are not provided timely individual preseparation counseling; and (5) many service members and their spouses do not have the opportunity to attend transition seminars and use employment assistance centers.

Status Legend:

More Info
  • Review Pending-GAO has not yet assessed implementation status.
  • Open-Actions to satisfy the intent of the recommendation have not been taken or are being planned, or actions that partially satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-implemented-Actions that satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-not implemented-While the intent of the recommendation has not been satisfied, time or circumstances have rendered the recommendation invalid.
    • Review Pending
    • Open
    • Closed - implemented
    • Closed - not implemented

    Recommendations for Executive Action

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the secretaries of the military departments to implement the transition assistance program required by law.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD has issued directives to implement the transition assistance program.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the secretaries of the military departments to get skills verification documents to those personnel they missed and ensure that all future separatees have the document to use in the individual preseparation counseling sessions.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: On November 5, 1993, DOD issued a policy memorandum requiring the skill verification document be provided to service members 120 days prior to separation. Also, the Air Force and the Marine Corps have been asked to review their efforts to contact former service members and offer them the document. ASD (P&R) approved DOD Instruction 1332.35, "Preseparation Counseling for Military Personnel," on February 14, 1994, replacing the policy memo of November 5, 1993. The Air Force has contacted separated airmen, and the Marine Corps conducted a nationwide campaign in print and radio to encourage Marine veterans to contact a toll-free number to request the verification document.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the secretaries of the military departments to evaluate transition assistance at the installation level until the secretaries are certain the programs are operating effectively and make periodic evaluation thereafter.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD Directive 1332.35 directs the military departments to use their inspectors general to evaluate installation transition programs and report annually. The DASD (Personnel Support, Families, and Education) implemented quarterly reporting requirements to monitor the system more closely. Spot checks of installation transition programs are ongoing.

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