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Over the last 15 years, Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have been studied and dissected from innumerable angles. No group has spent more time studying their needs, habits, challenges and strengths than the nonprofit RAND Corporation, which focuses on developing public policy solutions to complex national problems.
RAND has released a new report — Ten Frequently Asked Questions About Veterans’ Transitions — that sifts through a wealth of studies it conducted over the last decade to highlight findings about veterans' transition and reintegration.
Thanks to RAND’s commitment to ask the right questions and exhaustively examine available data, the 10 findings, summarized below, remain valuable for current policy discussions.
1. Veterans succeed in the civilian workforce.
Unemployment and labor force participation rates among post-9/11 veterans have remained on par with the comparable civilian population. While veterans ages 18–24 do face more hurdles than comparable civilians immediately after leaving the military, the gap only exists for a short period of time. Overall, post-9/11 veterans are actually more likely to be employed full time than their civilian counterparts.
2. Service members and veterans earn more than civilians.
Despite a common view inside and outside the military that service members make financial sacrifices, "both current service members and veterans earn more than demographically comparable civilians." The earnings premium increases over the time of service and continues to exist upon separation, except for service members who do not complete their initial service commitment
3. Reservist deployments cause a spike in unemployment benefit claims.
The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan required the mobilization of large numbers of reservists for extended periods. This resulted in a sharp rise in claims for unemployment compensation for former service members. The caseload spike was largely caused by these reservist mobilizations, which broadened the eligibility pool and increased the number of claims.
4. Disabled vets are generally compensated for lost earnings.
Mental and physical disabilities can be extraordinarily costly to veterans, reducing their earnings potential, increasing their healthcare costs and saddling them with a host of other burdens. On average, disabled veterans receive support that more than equals their lost earnings. Yet not all groups are as effectively compensated. Complicating the situation, RAND found that generous disability payments could create incentives for some veterans to not return to work.
5. Employer tax credits positively impact disabled veterans.
The creation of tax credits that incentivized employers to hire disabled veterans led to an increase in hiring and aggregate earnings during a period of temporarily increased veteran unemployment. The tax credits, in the years studied, cost approximately $600 million while increasing disabled veterans’ overall income by more than $1 billion.
6. Not all veteran employment initiatives are created equal.
RAND looked at a number of public and private sector programs to help veterans find jobs, and found large variations on their abilities to create and measure impact for veteran job-seekers. Good intentions only matter so much; execution is key in reaching veterans and facilitating their connections with potential employers.
7. Veterans like for-profit schools, but don’t always benefit.
For-profit schools have been popular with veterans because they are seen as being “adult-oriented, career-focused, and flexible.” Veterans also like the practical focus of the curriculums and the convenience of online courses and multiple campus locations. Yet as we have seen through recent news reports, for-profit schools are often bad choices for veterans. RAND found that for-profits’ “deceptive practice, high dropout rates, and lower post graduation employment rates” can diminish their effectiveness while costing the government more than not-for-profit institutions.
8. Mental health problems can be treated more cost effectively.
Productivity losses from PTSD and serious depression cost the U.S. billions annually; despite efforts to provide more effective treatments, there are two problems to still confront. Many afflicted veterans do not receive adequate help from medical or mental health experts, while others do not seek help because of the enduring stigmas about about mental health issues. Adoption of evidence-based treatments could save more than $1,000 per returning veteran by increasing productivity and reducing suicides.
9. Military hasn't effectively pursued suicide prevention research.
Despite rising more than 50%since 9/11, the military suicide rate (distinct from the veteran suicide rate) has remained lower than that of the comparable civilian population. The Department of Defense spends billions on prevention research, but much of the funding was focused on reinforcing the value of proven treatments, and not exploring new or untested treatments to expand treatment options. DoD efforts also suffered from a “research-to-practice gap, often failing to respond when new evidence emerges, or to share and implement best practices.”
10. More research is needed to better serve veterans.
Researchers would benefit from mapping veterans’ employment paths in order to develop a better understanding of how veterans' experience and military skills can apply to the civilian workplace. They should also study "veterans’ educational outcomes to determine how veterans are faring and what their returns from education are." Finally, RAND calls for the creation of a new longitudinal study of veterans that follows a cohort through every phase of their life post-military to create a comprehensive system of data on the veteran experience.
The U.S. Space Force has a name tape for uniforms now. Get excited people.
In a tweet from its official account, the Space Force said its uniform name tapes have "touched down in the Pentagon," sharing a photo of it on the chest of Gen. John W. Raymond, the newly-minted Chief of Space Operations for the new service branch nested in the Department of the Air Force.
PALM BEACH, Fla. (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump gave a minute-to-minute account of the U.S. drone strikes that killed Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani in remarks to a Republican fund-raising dinner on Friday night, according to audio obtained by CNN.
With his typical dramatic flourish, Trump recounted the scene as he monitored the strikes from the White House Situation Room when Soleimani was killed.
The U.S. Navy will name its fourth Ford-class aircraft carrier after Doris Miller, an iconic World War II sailor recognized for his heroism during the Pearl Harbor attack, according to reports in The Honolulu Star-Advertiser and U.S. Naval Institute News.
Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly is expected to announce the naming of CVN-81 during a ceremony on Monday in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, according to USNI. Two of Miller's nieces are expected to be there, according to the Star-Advertiser.
Two immigrants, a pastor and an Army sergeant have been convicted of conspiracy to commit marriage fraud as part of an illegal immigration scheme, according to federal prosecutors.
Rajesh Ramcharan, 45; Diann Ramcharan, 37; Sgt. Galima Murry, 31; and the Rev. Ken Harvell, 60, were found guilty Thursday after a nine-day jury trial, according to a news release from the U.S. attorney's office in Colorado.
The conspiracy involved obtaining immigration benefits for Rajesh Ramcharan, Diann Ramcharan, and one of their minor children, the release said. A married couple in 2007 came to the U.S. from Trinidad and Tobago on visitor visas. They overstayed the visas and settled in Colorado.
DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran said on Saturday it was sending to Ukraine the black boxes from a Ukrainian passenger plane that the Iranian military shot down this month, an accident that sparked unrest at home and added to pressure on Tehran from abroad.
Iran's Tasnim news agency also reported the authorities were prepared for experts from France, Canada and the United States to examine information from the data and voice recorders of the Ukraine International Airlines plane that came down on Jan. 8.
The plane disaster, in which all 176 aboard were killed, has added to international pressure on Iran as it grapples with a long running row with the United States over its nuclear program that briefly erupted into open conflict this month.