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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Strategies to help veterans find jobs continue to expand in the Midwest, with Michigan, Iowa and Kansas among the states establishing new programs or policies in recent months.


The U.S. military discharges 160,000 active service members and 110,000 Reserve and National Guard members each year, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. About 32,000 of those veterans will join the ranks of nearly 1 million veterans already unemployed. For young, male veterans—ages 18-24—the picture is even bleaker: In 2011, one out of every three was looking for work, almost double the unemployment rate of their non-veteran peers. In response, employers are finding ways to match veterans with employment opportunities, and many of The Council of State Governments’ Associate members are working to hire veterans.

The Act makes it a Class C misdemeanor to use fraudulent military records to obtain benefits intended for those who have actually served in the military.

As a Vietnam veteran, Linda Schwartz saw firsthand the difficulties returning service members faced when re-entering civilian life.  As the commissioner of Connecticut’s Department of Veterans' Affairs, Schwartz had one goal with regard to veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan: “I wanted to do better by the folks coming home today,” she said.  Thus was born the Oasis Centers in Connecticut, an East regional winner of The Council of State Governments’ 2012 Innovations Award.

US military personnel are also family members, neighbors, friends, colleagues, and constituents. They face tough challenges at home and abroad. In recent years, many have served in Iraq and Afghanistan and returned home. Some have physical and mental issues which hinder readjusting to life in the US after military service. Some need counseling, or help with housing, education, or employment. Here are websites they can use to get help and examples of state efforts to provide such help.