Helping servicemembers 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) and other federal agencies offer supports and services to facilitate this transition.
However, agencies could improve some of these supports and services.
- The Department of Defense (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 the 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.
- The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act provides servicemembers with an interest rate cap of 6% on student loans while they are on active duty. However, servicemembers have faced challenges obtaining this rate cap. For instance, some servicemembers eligible for the cap may not receive it because information used by DOD to inform them about the cap is inaccurate. DOD should ensure that accurate information is conveyed to servicemembers about how this interest rate cap applies to student loans.
- The Department of Labor was required to provide employment workshops to veterans and their spouses in a pilot program. Labor did so and found that the workshops had difficulty attracting participants. A total of 250 participants attended the workshops. Labor’s annual reports to Congress on this pilot provided information on topics such as workshop attendance, participant demographics, and satisfaction with the workshop. However, key questions remain unanswered, such as the need for the program, the pilot's role amid other federal programs, and the goals and objectives for measuring its progress.
Military and Veteran Support: DOD Has Taken Steps to Help Servicemembers Transfer Skills to Civilian Employment but Has Limited Evidence to Determine Program Effectiveness
Veteran Federal Employment: OPM and Agencies Could Better Leverage Data to Help Improve Veteran Retention Rates
Military and Veteran Support: Performance Goals Could Strengthen Programs that Help Servicemembers Obtain Civilian Employment
Post-9/11 GI Bill: Veterans Affected by School Closures
Transitioning Servicemembers: Information on Military Employment Assistance Centers
VA Disability Benefits: Some Progress, but Further Steps Needed to Improve Appeals Reform Planning
Transitioning Veterans: Coast Guard Needs to Improve Data Quality and Monitoring of Its Transition Assistance Program
VA Disability Benefits: Improved Planning Practices Would Better Ensure Successful Appeals Reform
Transitioning Veterans: DOD Needs to Improve Performance Reporting and Monitoring for the Transition Assistance Program
Student Loans: Oversight of Servicemembers' Interest Rate Cap Could Be Strengthened
Post-9/11 GI Bill: Additional Actions Needed to Help Reduce Overpayments and Increase Collections