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MILITARY AND VETERAN SUPPORT: DOD and VA Programs That Address the Effects of Combat and Transition to Civilian Life

GAO-15-24, November 7, 2014

Some post-9/11 servicemembers and veterans have faced challenges managing health and other problems related to their military service, gaining timely access to programs and services, successfully rejoining their families, and finding meaningful employment. In addition, researchers, media outlets, and others have reported on a gap in awareness and understanding of such challenges. Providing post-combat assistance to servicemembers, ensuring a smooth transition from active duty to veteran status, and helping veterans readjust to civilian life are important investments in our nation’s future. Among the federal agencies that offer assistance to servicemembers, veterans, and their families, the Departments of Defense (DOD) and Veterans Affairs (VA) support many post-combat and transition programs.
The table below answers three main questions:

1) The number of DOD programs addressing the effects of combat on post-9/11 active-duty servicemembers and their families.
2) The number of DOD and VA programs to help post-9/11 active-duty servicemembers transition and veterans readjust to civilian life.
3) The number of DOD and VA programs to help raise public awareness and understanding of post-9/11 active duty servicemembers' and veterans' combat

This table describes 170 separate DOD and VA programs that GAO identified using our definition of “program.” Below, you can narrow the results that you see by using the pull-downs. For example, click on the left pull-down to filter by program area, the middle column to filter by specific area of interest, or the left pull-down to filter by the population served.


Source: GAO analysis of DOD and VA programs. | GAO-15-24.

Notes: In general, GAO defined programs as federally funded, organized sets of activities directed toward specific purposes or goals that agencies undertake and are being administered in fiscal year 2014. GAO further scoped this definition for each objective as follows: Objective 1: DOD or military services' programs that address the effects of combat (including physical, mental, or social health) on post-9/11 servicemembers or their spouses or dependents; Objective 2: DOD, military services, or VA programs that focus primarily on helping active duty servicemembers transition or veterans readjust to civilian life; Objective 3: DOD, military services, or VA programs that focus primarily on raising civilian public awareness of the combat experiences of servicemembers and the readjustment experiences of veterans.

For all three objectives we excluded (1) research programs; (2) programs in which post-9/11 / Iraq and Afghanistan servicemembers or veterans are not eligible; (3) programs developed and administered by individual military installations or VA hospitals specifically for the populations they serve at those locations, thus our findings are limited to the national perspective; and, (4) programs that provide a one-way, passive transmission of information (e.g., a directory that lists services available). We do not include programs of other federal agencies that may address servicemembers’ transition and veterans’ readjustment to civilian life and assistance for their families. We also did not identify state and local government programs, and other entities’ programs, such as nongovernmental organizations.