Helping veterans overcome challenges to transitioning to civilian life—such as unemployment, homelessness, mental health issues, and disability-related issues—is essential. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the Department of Defense (DOD), and other federal agencies offer supports and services to facilitate this transition.
However, agencies could improve some of these supports and services.
DOD tailored its transition assistance program to meet individual service member needs based on how prepared they are to transition back to civilian life. Nearly a quarter of service members who need maximum transition support did not attend a 2-day tailored class focused on topics like higher education and vocational training. Most service members also did not start the transition process at least a year in advance, as required. DOD has not leveraged performance information to better understand root causes, inform decision-making, and improve results for this program.
DOD has programs to help servicemembers transition from military service to civilian employment. One program matches military training and skills with civilian occupations and provides resources to help servicemembers get the credentials they need. Another allows servicemembers to meet civilian apprenticeship requirements while on active duty. DOD currently tracks participation in and completion of these programs, but doesn't have adequate evidence to show that the programs are working.
45 federal programs help servicemembers, veterans, spouses, and dependents establish civilian careers. While these programs frequently provided similar services to similar populations, they have reported efforts to coordinate activities—such as co-locating educational and career counseling services. However, 8 of these programs reported having no goals that define program achievements. Developing such performance goals and taking steps to assess outcomes could help agencies better monitor program performance.
A Transition Assistance Program class helps members of the U.S. Army transition to civilian life after service.
The Coast Guard is required to provide its servicemembers with counseling, employment assistance, and information on veterans' benefits through its Transition Assistance Program. However, the Coast Guard lacks complete and reliable data on participation in this program. Consequently, it can’t accurately measure the performance of this program to ensure it is meeting its goals.