Making the transition between military service and civilian life can be a difficult challenge for service members. Many find themselves without a job or the means to support a family without returning to school to further their knowledge and skills. But making the move from a battlefield to a college campus can be a difficult, isolating experience for student veterans.

Although women now serve alongside men on the battlefield in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, there is one place where male and female soldiers may not be getting the same treatment. That place is after they return home and become veterans.

Two years ago, UPS committed to hiring 25,000 veterans and to contributing 25,000 volunteer hours to veterans causes by Dec. 31, 2018. UPS, a CSG Associate member, then upped the ante last year by declaring its intent to hire 50,000 veterans and to donating 50,000 volunteer hours to veterans’ causes within the same timeframe. These commitments were made as part of UPS’ participation in the White House’s Joining Forces initiative, which was established in 2011 to give service members, veterans and their families the tools needed to be successful.

Wal-Mart, a CSG Senior Associate member, committed in 2013 to hiring 100,000 veterans over a five–year period. At that time, nearly 1 million veterans were unemployed and male veterans age 18-24 had an overall unemployment rate of almost 30 percent. “Wal-Mart is hiring veterans because it is just the right thing to do,” Joe Quinn, Wal-Mart’s senior director of issue management and strategic outreach, said at the time of the announcement. “Men and women who fight for our country should never have to fight for a job.”

Veterans have unique needs when they attend college, but fortunately, state leaders can do quite a few things to help ease their transition into college, civilian life and the workforce. “Generally speaking, their (veterans’) skills are undervalued by the civilian workforce,” said Dawn McDaniel, a U.S. Army veteran and president of Bravo Delta Consulting, a business that partners with companies and governments to help reduce the barriers for veterans in the workforce. “This is largely because the military culture is unknown. With only a 7.5 percent veteran population in the United States, … that leaves a tremendous amount of people who never had any connection or any intimate knowledge of the service and what it means.”

Veterans are enrolling in postsecondary education institutions in large numbers, most of them with extensive occupational experience. Many colleges use Prior Learning Assessments to award academic credit when the knowledge and skills an individual has gained outside the classroom--including employment, military training and service, civic activities, and volunteer service--can be matched to college-level coursework. Veterans who earn credit for general courses are able to complete their degrees in a shorter period of time, reducing...

Working with student veterans on a daily basis, Jan Del Signore sees the challenges of making the transition from military service to civilian life, especially when assisting those building credentials to find sustainable employment. Unlike many college students, military veterans bring a set of skills and past training, but are less likely to persist to a degree and more likely to be unemployed. When postsecondary institutions offer college credit for prior learning in the military, most students complete college faster, attain a degree or credential and leave with less student debt.

U.S. veterans involved in the justice system face unique challenges. Since 2008, court officials have begun to step in to prevent jail time for veterans suffering from mental health disorders. Judge Robert Russell of Buffalo, N.Y., has offered one solution--specialized veterans treatment court.

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In Iowa, the state and some of its local governments are trying to send a clear message to military veterans: We Want You. The Home Base Initiative is a public-private partnership that is marketing job opportunities to veterans across the country and doing more to welcome this population to Iowa.

Wendy Lewis went from military service to school and seemed to be lacking one key to success in life outside the Army—structure. Lewis recently participated on a student panel during a Council of State Governments Policy Academy, “Veterans Initiatives: Increasing Educational Attainment.” The goal of the five panels, according to Marshall Thomas, director of Veterans Affairs Services at California State Long Beach and a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, was to discuss how to go beyond simply saying “thank you for your service,” and how to best help veterans achieve educational success.

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