Service return: helping our vets transition to civilian work

mm Bill Pace

Transitioning to civilian life from the military has never been easy, especially for those returning from serving in a war zone. Physical and mental health issues often create significant challenges to the transition. Moreover, differences in organizational hierarchy, support structures, and other factors can make the civilian and military workplaces fundamentally different from one another.

A recent study entitled Veterans’ Employment Challenges, co-sponsored by Prudential Life and Iran and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), was conducted with nearly 2,500 veterans and soon-to-be veterans in an on-line survey. A major finding of the study was that two-thirds of veterans reported difficulty making the transition from military to civilian life. According to the study: “Veterans name ‘finding a job’ as the greatest challenge in transitioning… Nearly all believe that they have the skills needed to land their ideal job, but the majority express concerns about how to translate their skills to a business environment.”

In the study, a number of factors were cited that contribute to creating challenges in finding meaningful and appropriate civilian employment:

  • Three in five veterans expressed concerns about cultural barriers in civilian workplaces
  • Two-thirds say they are facing a major health challenge as a result of their service
  • While two-thirds reported receiving transition support, the majority assessed the help as ineffective or inadequate

While the current resources appear to fall short, there was strong interest in new transition programs and services customized to veterans specific circumstances and needs. In fact, the number one need identified by vets was help with “networking”, with 89% of the respondents stating that they need help in this area.

We at ClearlyNext fully believe that providing this sort of help is vital to good career decision-making and to effective transitions to new careers. Our program is built on that premise. One of the groups we have targeted to serve are our returning Vets. We know that the same approach we provide to our civilian users will work just as well (maybe even better!) for those who have served us all so well. We look forward to being part of that mission.

Bill Pace is Managing Director of ClearlyNext, a guided online career program that helps people of all backgrounds and incomes figure out what to do next. Read more >