As we express gratitude to the men and women who have served in our nation’s military this Veterans Day, we also reflect on how our nation helps prepare service members and veterans for a transition from military to civilian life. Having sound federal transition programs can help veterans return to family, workplaces, and communities, and mitigate the harmful effects of war-related injuries.
Congress asked GAO to compile a comprehensive list of programs, and we found the Departments of Defense (DOD) and Veterans Affairs (VA) offer 87 programs to help post-9/11 service members and veterans during their transition to civilian life. Some of the 87 programs offer more than one type of service, as shown below. For example, the Transition Assistance Program offers employment and education assistance, as well as information on veterans’ benefits.
Transition to Civilian Life: Number of DOD and VA Programs by Type of Service
Note: The numbers of programs by type of service do not equal 87 because some programs provide more than one service. The frequency of a type of service does not necessarily indicate its utilization.
Excerpted from GAO-15-24
To learn more about these programs, use our interactive list.
VA Education Tools
If you are seeking information specifically on VA education benefits, a number of tools are available. For example, VA offers free educational counseling that can help veterans form their career and education plans.
Other tools include:
- CareerScope, a free tool that allows veterans to assess their interests and aptitudes, develop career goals, and get guidance on what additional education or training might be necessary for those careers;
- A guide to choosing a school, which has information about what to consider when deciding how to best use veterans educational benefits; and
- GI Bill Comparison Tool, which has school-specific information such as graduation rates and whether the school has a veterans’ group, along with a benefit and out-of-pocket expense estimator.
Melissa Emrey-Arras, a director in our Education, Workforce, and Income Security team, spoke about the recruitment of student veterans on this podcast:
Ms. Emrey-Arras also answered questions about veterans and higher education in this AskGAOLive chat:
Increased Demand for Veterans Services
Programs for veterans may experience increased demand following more than a decade of war, as more than 1 million servicemembers are expected to leave the military over the next several years. For more information, see our Key Issue pages on
- supports and services for transitioning veterans,
- continuity of health care from DOD to VA, and
- DOD and VA health care collaboration.