Survey indicates troops don't feel prepared for post-military transition

Connecting Vets
February 26, 2020 - 1:10 pm
Hundreds of tables divided the Fort Bliss Centennial Banquet and Conference Center ballroom into a maze of employers, many of whom were repeat attenders. Event organizer Denise Carothers said they come back every six months because they’ve seen the proces

Photo by Michelle Gordon


Access to VA and military health care and a general understanding of the military community are a couple of the most important issues to veterans, according to the most recent Blue Star Families annual survey.

Founded by military spouses, Blue Star Families offers support to active duty service members, Reservists, and veterans through discounts, community programs, and an in-depth survey that details the current state of the military community.

Amidst the report’s findings this year, a large focus on the stability of military families, particularly regarding mental health. According to the survey, all service members, active duty, Guard, and Reservists, fear a potential career impact is a major reason why they don’t seek mental health treatment.

When it comes to the veteran community, their main concern was the lack of preparation for the transition from service member to veteran.

Fifty-six percent of veteran respondents indicated their overall transition was “difficult or very difficult,” even though almost half (47 percent) of veterans started preparing less than a year before separating.

In addition to not feeling prepared, veterans mentioned feeling socially isolated during their transition which the survey says “may indicate that there are far-reaching impacts of transition preparation and experience.”

However, challenges post-military can differ even further when looking at gender. The survey mentions two-third of female veterans reported their transition was “difficult or very difficult” in comparison to half of male veterans who reported the same. Women were also less aware of community resources and reported having no family or friends who could assist them during challenging financial times.

The survey notes “female veterans must navigate complex identities and multiple roles….It is possible that the challenges associated with managing multiple identities (being a veteran, active-duty spouse, a woman, etc.), many of which are invalidated by society, are related to difficulties in transition and post-service life for many female veterans.”

Traumatic brain injury, unemployment, military benefits, access to VA care, and a general understanding of the military community were also important to the veteran respondents as well.

Blue Star Families hopes the survey will "identify the critical aspects of military life to effectively target resources, services, and programs that support the sustainability of military service and the All-Volunteer Force; and facilitate a holistic understanding of service member, veteran, and military family experiences so that communities, legislators, and policymakers can better serve each of their unique needs."

Of the 11,000-plus respondents, a majority of veterans surveyed served post-Vietnam, with 56 percent of veterans having served between August 1990 to August 2001 and 66 percent having served from September 2001 or later.

To read the survey in its entirety and find more information about Blue Star Families, click here.

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