Military and Veterans Affairs

IVMF releases report using previously unknown data about veterans

The Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University recently released a report last month that fills in the blanks on missing data about veterans’ post-military transitions.

“Missing Perspectives” is the first study on military veterans in transition conducted by an SU research team for the IVMF. The report was based on a large data collection and provided insight on aspects of post-military transition.

Corri Zoli, director of research for SU’s Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism and the leader of the research team, said the report was especially important because it encompasses comprehensive national data on recent veterans that had been missing from both academic research and public discourse — hence the title “Missing Perspectives.”

“From this data, we learned from service members that they largely value their military service experiences and, further, that such service experiences have lasting effects; they often help prep veterans for interest in higher education, certain careers and in ongoing community engagement and public service,” Zoli said.

The research was important because it addresses the “lived experiences” of the post-9/11 generation veterans and families, said Mike Haynie, SU’s vice chancellor of veteran and military affairs, in an SU News release.

Haynie added that these experiences should be the basis of informing the IVMF in how to best support the veterans after they “take off the uniform.”

“Missing Perspectives” gives insight on the motivations behind veterans’ choices to join the military, the skills they believe were enhanced by their military experiences and what they wanted to do after the end of their military careers.

“There were many unexpected results,” Zoli said. “We were surprised how positively service members viewed their military service, and how women are the fastest growing veteran subpopulation.”

The study showed today’s service members have the highest rates of service-related disabilities, Zoli said, and they were one of the most diverse groups of service members both demographically and professionally.

The report also showed that for 53 percent of veterans, the top reason to join the military was educational benefits. Ninety-two percent of veterans either “agreed” or “strongly agreed” that education should play a role in their post-service transition as well, according to the report.

“First and foremost, we need to understand as a college/university community that service members have much to offer — by way of skills, experiences, competencies and commitments — to campus life,” Zoli said.

She added that there are certain practices at colleges and universities that are best suitable for service members, including support with VA benefits paperwork; flexible schedules; a roadmap from degree to profession; an emphasis on teamwork, disciplines and leadership; and veteran-oriented spaces on campus.

“Universities have been slow at identifying these best practices and sharing them with each other nationally, despite the fact that they are receiving enormous funds for student veterans from the GI Bill and other military/veterans benefits programs,” Zoli said.

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