Is the Transition Process More Difficult for Some Veterans?


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Is the military transition process more difficult for some veterans? According to data being collected by a group of veterans, the answer to this question is yes. 

"Almost half of the veterans we've surveyed claim their transition into the civilian workforce was 'more difficult' than expected," says Brian Niswander, an Air Force veteran, Reservist, and the chief architect of a comprehensive transition study. The data in this latest transition study can be viewed online at and is meant to be utilized by service members before, during, and after their transition. Users can view survey responses for the entire military community or select combinations of branch, rank, years of service, education, specialty, age, and gender to see how the data changes.

Generally speaking, more than 70 percent of the veterans who have taken the survey agreed with the statement "my transition was stressful." Roughly half of the veterans surveyed agreed that their transition was "confusing" or "painful," and less than half of veterans surveyed agreed with the statement "my transition was smooth." Data has shown that the difficulty of transition can change when various combinations of military branch, rank, and other variables are considered.

Says Niswander, "Knowing that service members underestimate the difficulty associated with transitioning is important and enables us to begin addressing larger questions such as: who are the individuals having difficulty, why is their transition more challenging as compared to others, what can we learn from their experiences, and how can we leverage these insights to improve training programs and the overall transition process?

"These are the types of questions we're trying to answer for the veterans and employers that recruit and hire military talent."

The data used in the survey is updated in real time using a tool called the Transition Intelligence Dashboard. This approach enables service members, employers, and support agencies to understand issues (like transition difficulty) along with more than 40 other questions and topics of interest.  All of the information will be made available to help service members better understand and navigate the process of taking off the uniform and joining the civilian workforce.  Some of the questions and insights available through the dashboard include:

  • Level of difficulty, stress, and confusion
  • Salary expectations
  • Top reasons to transition and reasons why civilian position are accepted
  • Importance of networking, translating military skills, and having a plan….
  • Time between leaving the military and starting a civilian position
  • Satisfaction and happiness as a civilian compared to being in the military

In addition to providing data about the process, the survey collects text-based comments and lessons learned from those who have already taken off the uniform. 

The on-going veteran survey will be conducted annually to identify trends and ensure the most current data is available to service members, veterans, and employers.  Veterans interested in participating in the survey can visit or via one of the following social media links:  and

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