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Running head: MILITARY TRANSITION 1

Military Transition Awareness


Jeremie P. Sagely
University of Texas at El Paso
RWS 1301
March 23, 2016

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Abstract

The effects on military members transitioning from the armed serves to civilian life has
been highlighted to great extent, for example; alcoholism, depression, homelessness, and Post
Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) are some of those effects. The Veteran Affairs offices can
provide professional guidance for information regarding homes for veterans, PTSD, alcoholism
and higher education learning. Locations for Veteran Affairs office can be found through the
va.gov website. The transitioning part of the equation has been forgotten or overshadowed as a
cause to these effects. Providing information is not enough for service members who are
transitioning from the service. The government has yet to find the link between why service
members tend to do well while in the services and fail when transitioning out of the service when
faced with finding a job or getting an education. Service members are proud individuals who do
not occasionally ask for help even from those that are close to them, service members rely on
their brothers and sisters in arms in order to get through troubled times. A link can be made
between service members that are transitioning into civilian life and their community; one of the
ways is community awareness.
Keywords: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Veteran, Service Members Transition,
Education Assistance

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Introduction
Army Times reported (2014) the Army stands to lose 18,200 soldiers in the drawdown
plan 2015, through attrition and reduced accessions, but also with retention screening boards that
may lead to soldiers being forced out (Army Times, 2014).
Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno said involuntary separation actions would be targeted at
the various officer and noncommissioned officer ranks "to keep the force in balance," and
to compensate for the additional soldiers who were brought into service during the
manpower buildup for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq (Army Times, 2014).
As we uncover some issues military service members are facing, we began to understand the
direct correlation between transitioning and the effects it has on military members. In this report
we will discuss transitioning challenges of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, homeless veterans,
PTSD amongst service members, veteran affairs and education assistance, and community
awareness.
Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans.1
Service members combat experience differs from person to person, not all service
members deploy to the same region of the country. Combat operations are also very different for
each service member, some conduct foot patrols while others may conduct convoy escorts, both
equally as dangerous. Living condition are also different for each service member, while some
have hard structures to call home for the period of their deployment others share a 10-man tent
with little or no ventilation. Even as days turn to weeks and weeks turn to months everyday
seams to be exactly as the last, other than the weather changing for the better or the worst it
seams as if its just one long day. As the days pass service members grow closer to their seniors,

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peers, and subordinates and even growing closer to the culture around them. After a long period
of time battling the elements of a foreign country and its enemy and building a comradery out of
an experience only their fellow brothers and sisters in arms can understand, the transition back to
being someones father, son, husband, wife, daughter, mother, or significant other is a hard
adjustment to make. Ahern, et al. (2015) conducted structured interviews with 24 Afghanistan
and Iraq Veterans in 2009-2011 in California, US. The structured interviews focused on the
transition back to civilian life (p. 1-13). In order to gage service members experience, the
interview process began prior to their deployment with a follow up interview after their
deployment either in person or via phone call. In conclusion 19 out of the 24 found a disconnect
between themselves and their family members.
Homeless Veterans.
Our veterans face many difficult challenges when transitioning from the military. Not all
veterans life experiences set them up for what comes after the military. Unfortunately to many
of our veterans find themselves living on the streets of many of our cities, wondering where they
went wrong in life. The federal governments reaction to this dilemma was long over due by the
time it began to make a difference in these veterans life. Most of the veterans are combat
veterans reaching back as far as the Vietnam War. The veterans of this error did not receive the
support our veterans are receiving today and they feel as if the country they gave their lives for
turned its back on them, and in some aspect it has. Most recently the military has mandated a
transitioning assistants program that is mandatory for a service members to attend prior to
separating from the military. The program focuses on veteran affairs benefits, job search,
resumes, education, starting a business, and how to make disability claims. Although the
program attempts to set each individual up for success it isnt a one on one session, the program

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is stretched over a few days in a classroom environment, this type of environment makes it
difficult for individuals to truly voice their concerns regarding their future.
PTSD amongst Service Members.
Packnett, Gubata, Cowan, and Niebuhr (2012) reported since the start of Operation Iraqi
Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, over 2 million U.S. military members were deployed
to Iraq and Afghanistan. The estimated prevalence of posttraumatic stress disorder among
soldiers and Marines returning from combat zones varies from 5%20% (p. 485-493).
Most service members that are deployed to combat operations have shown signs of posttraumatic stress disorder and is becoming increasingly common amongst service members.
Scientific study has aided the military in identifying these issues, the military continues to
conduct training events in order to bring awareness to its service members and family. Educating
the military members of the signs and symptoms can help identify those individuals who require
help and place the service member on the right path to recovery.
Military Educational Benefits.
Service members transitions with several questions on their mind, do I go to school? Or
do I find a job? As the cartoon in figure 1 depicts a service member staring at the question mark
on the sign. The question mark can have a different meaning for each service member. A lot
of questions are raised during the transition phase, for example; do I focus on getting a job, do I
focus on my education, or can I manage to do both? Most service members utilize either
Montgomery GI Bill, or Post 9/11 GI Bill if they decided to return to school. The veteran
success centers located at many college campuses can provide service members with information
in school registration and other assistance. Having a dedicated location where service members
can go speak with other service members if they need help or have question speaks volumes

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about the Universities dedication to its service members. The veteran success center
provides the service member a peace of mind when trying to register for

Figure 1

The End of an Era |. (n.d.). Retrieved April 01, 2016, from


http://www.somewhereinthemiddleoffcenter.com/be-thechange/the-end-of-an-era/

classes or getting assistance from the Veteran Affairs (VA).


Community Awareness.

Our community is unware of the amount of service members that transition out of the
military each year. Figure 2, shows the decreasing number of the

Figure 2

military

members starting in 2008, and projected numbers for 2019. Its important to understand how
many service members are leaving the military and how
many of those are continuing their education, starting a
business, or continuing a career in the civilian sector.
These numbers are important because it shows the rise of
unemployment, the rise of suicide, and the rise of drug and alcohol related incidents in the
community. Knowing the numbers of service members leaving the military can give the
community an idea of when to look for new employees among business, when to schedule job
fairs at local military basses, when to seek experience service members for internships, or even
when to invest in new business that may be military owned. Identifying these changes in the
community can setup our service members for success in what would be an
already tough transition into the civilian sector.
Conclusion
Service members are of an elite group of individuals, they are someone
who has sacrificed their lives and their relationships with their families in order
to give freedom to the rest of the world, not only the United States. Service members do not ask
for handouts or gratitude for their sacrifices, they only ask for a little guidance toward their new

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career. Service members feel lost and afraid when transitioning out of the military, the security
blanket of having their brothers and sisters in arms around them no longer exist. They feel as if
their family does not understand their struggles when words arent enough to paint a picture of
their experiences. Service members can not pickup where they left off after transitioning out of
the military, due to the fact they have transitioned into someone else during the time that they
were in the military. Service members can be some of the most amazingly driven individuals our
society can produce, if given the guidance, patients, and opportunity service members could
bring the communities they inhabit prosperity. We only have to guide them with a helping hand,
friendly smile, or some encouraging words.

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Reference

Ahern, J., Worthen, M., Masters, J., Lippman, S. A., Ozer, E. J., & Moos, R. (2015).
The Challenges of Afghanistan and Iraq Veterans Transition from Military to
Civilian Life and Approaches to Reconnection. Plos ONE, 10(7), 1-13.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0128599
Harvey, S. B., Hatch, S. L., Jones, M., Hull, L., Jones, N., Greenberg, N., & ...Wessely, S.
(2011). Coming Home: Social Functioning and the Mental Health of UK
Reservists on Return From Deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan. Annals Of
Epidemiology, 21(9), 666-672.
doi:10.1016/j.annepidem.2011.05.004
Lemos, G. (2005). Military history: The experiences of people who become homeless
after leaving military service. Housing, Care & Support, 8(3), 4-8.
Packnett, E. R., Gubata, M. E., Cowan, D. N., & Niebuhr, D. W. (2012).
Temporal Trends in the Epidemiology of Disabilities Related to Posttraumatic
Stress Disorder in the U.S. Army and Marine Corps From 2005-2010. Journal Of
Traumatic Stress, 25(5), 485-493. doi:10.1002/jts.21743
Sander, L. (2012). With GI Bill's Billions at Stake, Colleges Compete to Lure Veterans.
(Cover story). Chronicle Of Higher Education, 58(35), A1-A8.
Trevor, H. (n.d). Vets go from combat to campus. USA Today.
In 2015, Army will lose nearly 20,000 soldiers in drawdown. (n.d.). Retrieved April 01,
2016, from
http://www.armytimes.com/story/military/careers/army/2014/12/26/2015drawdown-year-ahead/20860491/

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Figure 2, (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.vfwdeptpacific.org/typhoon/Apr2014.pdf