Military and Veteran Support: Detailed Inventory of Federal Programs to Help Servicemembers Achieve Civilian Employment

GAO-19-97R Published: Jan 17, 2019. Publicly Released: Jan 17, 2019.
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Fast Facts

We identified the available education and employment benefits to help servicemembers, veterans, and their families achieve civilian jobs. We found 11 agencies offering 45 programs. A 12th agency also administered a tax exclusion for GI Bill benefits, which allows recipients to exclude these benefits from their taxable income. 

We found no existing inventory that could easily give Congress or potential participants a complete picture of available benefits. The lack of such an inventory limits efforts to make government more effective and efficient.

This photo shows a soldier in uniform embracing his child.

This photo shows a soldier in uniform embracing his child.

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What GAO Found

GAO identified 45 federal programs and one tax expenditure to help servicemembers, veterans, or their families achieve civilian jobs. Eleven federal agencies administer these programs, usually independently of one another. GAO also identified one tax expenditure administered by the Department of the Treasury that exempts GI Bill benefits from federal taxation. A few programs are administered primarily by a single agency with assistance from another federal agency. For example, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) administers the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment program, but the Department of Labor (DOL) plays an integral role in delivering services and the two agencies coordinate training and outreach efforts, according to agency officials. Four of the 45 programs we identified are jointly administered by multiple agencies. For example, the Department of Defense (DOD) Transition Assistance Program is jointly administered by DOD, VA, DOL, the Department of Education, the Office of Personnel Management, the Small Business Administration and the United States Coast Guard, which represents the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). 

Why GAO Did This Study

The federal government’s commitment to those serving in the military includes assisting them in pursuing education and employment skills to help them succeed in the civilian workforce. In turn, this helps attract, develop, and sustain the nation’s all-volunteer military force. This investment in servicemembers continues after they leave military service and includes members of their families whose lives are also affected by their loved one’s transition to the civilian workforce. Moreover, multiple federal agencies administer the programs, both independently and together, to provide education and employment assistance, including help with self-employment, to servicemembers, veterans, and their families. 
The conference report accompanying a bill for the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018 included a provision for GAO to assess the panoply of benefits and programs available government-wide to separating servicemembers intended to provide the skills and education necessary for such members to achieve meaningful and fulfilling employment in their civilian lives.  This report provides a comprehensive inventory of the federal programs GAO identified as providing such assistance to servicemembers, veterans, and their families, including information from the administering agencies on who is eligible to receive services, the programs’ objectives, and the available services.

For more information, contact Cindy S. Brown Barnes at (202) 512-7215 or

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