When military personnel leave active service, they face unique stressors as they return to civilian life. These stressors are often addressed by Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs) who advocate on their behalf. In this investigation, leaders of Kentucky and West Virginia VSOs were interviewed to discuss the specific ways VSOs support veterans during the readjustment to civilian life. The interviewees discuss the complexities that their agencies face and share their own best practices for operating effectively. Interview questions were designed to identify VSO uniqueness, goals, and the complexities of serving veterans in order to compare responses across groups. Agencies then participated in a panel discussion, resulting in an opportunity to observe how veterans interact with each other on a personal level and as leaders in veterans services. From the personal interview and the panel discussion three main findings emerged: 1) participating in a community with common backgrounds and beliefs is key to a successful transition; 2) veterans have unique needs that VSOs are best equipped to meet; 3) communication and understanding of the goals of different VSOs support one another. A proactive approach to veteran transition sets recently-discharged veterans up for success in civilian life. VSOs provide a variety and a continuum of support.
Semester/Year of Publication
Travis L. Martin
Mentor Department Affiliation
Director of Kentucky Center for Veterans Studies
Open Access Thesis
Military Science and Leadership