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Veterans Helping Military Members Transition into Civilian Life

Rebecca | AmeriForce

A group of veterans is conducting an independent study to better understand the military to civilian transition process. The goal of this project is to help service members who are completing their military commitments transition more effectively into private life.  The approach by should be very familiar to military members: gather actionable intelligence about the developing situation and prepare for the mission of transitioning.

“Our objectives are to help soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, and coastguard members understand and prepare for the transition process ahead, which should reduce the time needed, ease the uncertainty, and help them find the best fit for their skills and aspirations,” said Brian Niswander, chief architect of the study and Founder/President of  Niswander, a transitioned veteran himself, continued, “We’ve based our approach upon 19 years of experience and qualitative research with transitioning veterans in both private and public sector organizations.”

According to research by , regardless of service branch or rank, most veterans wonder about the same kinds of things pertaining to follow-on employment. The most common questions include:

1. What does someone with my experience, education, and training do in the civilian workforce and what kind of pay is typical?
2. Will I like it outside the military?
3. What challenges or obstacles are ahead in my upcoming transitioning?
4. What lessons can I learn and apply from my fellow veterans who have already transitioned?
5. How will my quality of life as a civilian compare to the military lifestyle that surrounded me in the military?

Those veterans who've already made the transition into the civilian workforce are being asked to respond anonymously and candidly to the survey. According to Military-Transition.Org officials, as the results are compiled, they’ll be entered into an interactive knowledge base, which the team calls "transition intelligence.” The survey contains quantitative and qualitative responses that can be viewed based upon military branch, specialty, rank, years of service, education, and other key demographic variables.

“This kind of specific resource and the clarity of understanding it brings, doesn't exist today. It will be a major step forward in helping service members understand and prepare for their transition,” offered Don Greiman, a retired AF senior leader and Chief Operating Officer at with hiring experience in several Defense industry firms since his own transition in 2007. “Through this survey and the insight it will provide, the military tradition of members helping members is alive and well. After all, it’s what GIs have always done for each other” he continued.

A secondary objective is to identify macro insights which can be used in current DoD transition programs and by companies who want to hire veterans and help them adapt more easily to new roles and the civilian working environment. Officials added that achieving stability as early as possible has been shown to reduce the risk of unnecessary workforce turn over, which is stressful for the veteran and costly for the employer.

According to Niswander who launched the campaign via social media in June, “Our goal is for 100,000 veterans to participate in the survey so that we have a large enough group to gather insights and learnings.  Once the first round of data is compiled, service members can go to our website and find answers to their questions.”

Officials with Military-Transition.Org say users will be able to see the percentage of agreement or disagreement through questions like ‘the transition process was more difficult than I expected’ and read why veterans provided this answer. They believe one of the most important aspects of the project is to share the lessons learned by other veterans, including things they would have done differently if armed with the insights this project will provide. “Understanding these elements on a broad scale will help validate the general facts and trends, while enabling individuals to trust the results and apply them to their own situation,” added Greiman.

“At this point, we really need the support of all veterans to participate, share a link with their networks, and encourage others to do the same.  This is the only way we'll reach our goal of 100,000 responses,” said Niswander.

Military-Transition.Org officials intend to use the 2015 data to form a working baseline and plan to conduct the survey annually to mark trends and keep the results current for transitioning military members.

Former military members who would like to participate are encouraged to complete the survey at and invite their fellow veterans to do the same, with the ultimate goal of helping the current defenders of our freedom assimilate smoothly into the next chapter of their lives.