Supports and Services for Transitioning Veterans
The men and women who serve in our armed forces, particularly with the U.S. militarys presence in contingency operations around the world, put their lives on the line every day. For this reason, it is important that the government do all it can to help servicemen and women successfully transition to civilian life after service ends. In the next five years, one million veterans are expected to leave military service. Some of these veterans may face challenges adjusting to civilian life, such as experiencing unemployment, homelessness, and struggles with mental health symptoms. And, transition challenges may be compounded for veterans with disabilities. The Department of Veterans Affairs offers supports and services to facilitate this transition.
Some of the supports and services that can help veterans during a time of transition have key weaknesses, thereby increasing the risk that some veterans will have difficulties adjusting to civilian life.
- a Department of Defense (DOD-Veterans Affairs (VA) integrated disability evaluation system (IDES) faces a number of staffing and logistical challenges as processing times remain well above targeted timeframes; moreover DOD and VA need to develop timeframes for completing the ongoing IDES business process review as well as for implementing any resulting recommendations;
- VA has struggled for years to provide veterans with timely and accurate disability compensation benefits, as the number of claims taking more than the 125-day target set by VAreferred as the backlogis around 568,000;
- VA oversight of its home loan program lacked sufficient procedures for ensuring that servicemembersincluding veterans who recently left the servicewho are eligible for protections under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act were not being subjected to wrongful foreclosures;
- data suggests the number of homeless women veterans has doubled in recent years, but VA lacks information on the characteristics and needs of this population;
- the Post-9/11 GI Bill program has experienced processing delays during peak seasons, schools have lacked critical information on program complexities, and improper payments have increased;
- federal agencies have not fully coordinated efforts and resources to assist veterans pursuing entrepreneurial opportunities; and
- The Department of Labor and the Office of Special Counsel could take additional steps to ensure the integrity of data collected during a demonstration project to resolve re-employment rights complaints of veterans attempting to return to federal employment after military service.