Military to Civilian Transition

Every year, approximately 200,000 men and women leave U.S. military service and return to life as civilians, a process known as the military to civilian transition.

The military to civilian transition occurs within a complex and dynamic network of relationships, programs, services, and benefits, which includes transition planning and assistance efforts by individual Service branches, the interagency Transition Assistance Program (TAP), and community resources delivered through local government, private industry, and nonprofit organizations. This network (or ecosystem) delivers a holistic approach to help transitioning Service members and their families succeed at a critical juncture in their life journey.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, in collaboration with our interagency partners, is proud to provide this overview of the military to civilian transition through the lens of historical transition support, current transition assistance services and programs, and the key drivers shaping the near future of the transition assistance process.

A HISTORY OF TRANSITION

For the first 150 years of our nation’s history, the government delivered Veterans’ benefits and incidental medical care after military service, but largely left Service members to navigate their transition on their own. After World War I, Congress established a new system of benefits that included disability compensation and insurance for Service members and Veterans. During World War II, the government implemented the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944, commonly known as the original GI Bill®. The legislation provided tuition benefits and stipends for educational pursuits, unemployment benefits, home loan guarantees, and medical care to millions of Veterans returning to civilian life from service during WWII.

Over the next four decades, this “bundle of benefits” approach to transition assistance gave transitioning Service members and their families support for education, homeownership, insurance, and physical well-being. However, in the early 1990s, as the United States again faced a massive demobilization of the military due to planned post-Cold War reduction that coincided with the end of the Gulf War, Congress recognized the need for a more holistic approach to transition assistance.

The Fiscal Year (FY) 1991 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) ushered in a modern era of transition assistance and transformed the journey from military service to civilian life. FY 1991 NDAA authorized a program of comprehensive transition assistance counseling for separating Service members and their spouses. This was a major improvement to the bundle of benefits approach.

It is important for our discharging military members to get into the VA system as soon as possible to initiate claims, medical treatment and educational programs. Montgomery County Veterans Service is here locally to assistance with this process.

For more information on VA & State benefits, contact Montgomery County Veterans Service at 935-539-7842 or via email at vetsvc@mctx.org and on Facebook.