SUCCESSFUL TRANSITIONING OF VETERAN MILITARY OFFICERS 18
Critical Factors to Ensure Successful Transitioning of VeteranMilitary Officers
Critical Factors to Ensure Successful Transitioning of VeteranMilitia Officers
A: Opening Statement
The restructuring of the United States Military causes the affectedofficers to undergo a tremendous amount of struggle as theytransition from the military to the civilian community. Variousstudies on the effectiveness of the Military Transition Programcontinue to indicate its shortcoming despite the review conducted in2013. The current study aims at involving the military officers inidentifying the most critical factors to ensure their successfultransitioning to the civilian sector. The study pays attention toidentifying potential strategies to enhance the officer’s practicalpreparedness, informing the transition process, the leaders in chargeof the process as well as the counselors who aid the officers totransition (Gaiter 2015).
a. Summary of Literature Framing History
The American Department of Defense has the tradition of adding extrapersonnel in its workforce during major conflicts as a strategy tomeet the demand for soldiers both abroad and at home. However, thedepartment initiates a reduction in the workforce to realign to anon-wartime budget after the end of each conflict. In 1990, thegovernment formed the Transition Assistance program (TAP) due to theexpected reductions in the military personnel to assist the servicestaff in the transitioning from the Army to the civilian structure.The program provided the officers with job training services andhelping them make career decisions as they adjusted to their newlives as the non-combatant population. In the year 2011, PresidentObama, during a visit to the Washington Navy Yard, directed theDepartment of Defense to create a task force with the aim oftransforming the Transition Assistance Program. The objective of thechanges was to improve the efforts of adapting retiring veterans inseeking employment after serving in the army. Military transitioningoccurs among each of the branches of the armed forces: Air Force,Navy, and the Marines (Abrams et al., 2013).
The central focus of the current study is to evaluate theeffectiveness of the military transitioning program among each of theU.S military services, including the Army, the Navy, the Marines andthe Air Force. However, the current research shall not focus on thecoast guard members despite its affiliation with the military duringthe times of war. The coast guards are involved in war when directedby the president of the United States and operate differently fromthe other branches of the military. Besides, the study is interestedin the different offices located within the four branches of themilitary to facilitate transitioning. Specifically, the militarytransitioning offices are located in the Air Force as the airmen andfamily readiness center and the Army Career and Alumni program. Otheroffices include the Navy’s command career counselor at the fleetand family support center and finally, the career resource managementcenter (Gaiter, 2015).
Research has indicated that not all the veterans receive thetransitional support. Besides, the officers who undergo through theadjustment programs have mixed experiences. Among those who undergothrough the program, 66% agreed that they received support andtraining to adapt into the civilian environment while 33% indicatedthey did not get any training. An additional 24% of the veteransreported that they received encouragement from their leaders to usethe army’s installations and educational resources (Redmond et al.,2015).
b. Gaps and Deficiencies of Previous Research
The newly redesigned transitioning program complied with the Act onVeterans opportunity to work and hire heroes of 2011. It providedthat all military individuals discharged from service after servingsix months should participate in DVA briefings, pre-separationcounseling as well as workshops provided by the Department of Labor(Williams, 2012). The research gap of the study emanates fromthe lack of previous studies that have assessed the effectiveness ofthe MTP transitioning program on the veterans since its redesign in2011.
c. Importance of the Present Study
(i). Why the study should be conducted.
The importance of the current research emanates from various studiesthat have raised criticisms against the redesigned transition programfor its ineffectiveness. Specifically, they observe that the rate ofunemployment amongst retired service men was significantly higher.The studies note that the redesign of the transitioning programhappened in August 2011 during President Obama’s visit to theWashington Navy Yard. Despite the involvement of the top managementat the Department of Defense in the redesign of the program, it onlyinvolved several organizations such as the US Labor Department, theDepartment of Education, the US Office of Personnel Management andthe US Small Business Administration. The current study aims toprovide insights on how to address the shortcomings from thetransitioning program by obtaining the perspectives of the militaryofficers (Zarecky, 2014).
(ii) For whom is it important?
The results from the study are valuable for transition counselors asthey help in gauging the perceptions of the officers as well as theireffective preparedness for the transition process that entailsplanning for retirement and the associated loss of the connectionwith the military community. It will also provide insights to theleaders in the Department of Defense on how they can enhance thetransition program and assist the military officers to reintegratewith the civilian sector. It will guide on how to refine the programfor all retiring officers (Tannahill, 2013).
C. Problem Statement.
The United States of America retired veterans face significantproblems in their transition from the military service to thecivilian sector. They end up seeking for employment opportunitiesafter 20 or more years of service as a strategy to improve theirfinancial or professional status. The legacy of the transitionprograms from 1990’s to 2011 aimed at providing ex-military menwith job searching skills such as resume writing. However, mostveterans indicated their unpreparedness to successfully switch intothe private sector (Stone & Stone, 2014).There were more than75,000 unemployed veterans in the year 2013. The number of veteransis expected to grow as the United States military continues towithdraw its workforce from Afghanistan in the next few years.Specifically, by the year 2017, the military expects to draw down300,000 veterans per year. It is, therefore, difficult for thecurrent private sector to meet the increased demand for theemployment created by the veterans (DoD military programs: Activeforces end year number, 2014).
The MTP program was redesigned from three to five days workshops. Itaimed at providing employment and financial planning skills to themilitary personnel. It also included days where the militarypersonnel obtain advice from counselors and experts. Since it kickedoff in 2013, there has not been any formal evaluation of theredesigned MTP from the perspective of the veterans (Simon &Goes, 2013).
The current study aims to discover the perceptions of the veterans onthe most critical factors to ensure successful transitioning as astrategy to identify the necessary changes to the MTP program. Thestudy holds on the ineffectiveness of the redesigned MTP program inhelping the officers to transition in the private sector. Veterantransitioning refers to the process of retiring from the military.The emphasis for the current study aims at officers within theafter-retirement period of 6 months to 1 year (Ruiz, 2012).
D. Purpose of the Study.
(a) Research Design
The following research is a phenomenological inquiry with theintention of exploring the necessary success factors for thetransitioning program after its redesign in 2013. Thephenomenological research aims at 50 military officers who havetransitioned and expecting to transition to the private sector withinthe National Capital Region (NCR). The researcher aims at requestingthe participants to describe their perception of the program sinceits redesign to ascertain the effectiveness of the new program inenabling the officers to transition (Jones, 2013).
Several research gaps exist in the field of assessing the reentry ofveterans to the private sector. Some studies evaluated the officer`sexperiences with service-connected disabilities (Ostovary &Dapprich, 2011). Other studies have evaluated the movement ofveterans in achieving higher education (Jones 2013). However,currently, there lacks research on the ability of veterans totransition from the military career to other occupation careers inthe civilian sector.
(c) Central Phenomenon of the Study
According to Furtek (2012), the increased removal of military menfrom the battlefronts and the reduced military spending to a budgetof US 1.05 trillion within a ten-year period has the potential toreduce the numbers of active military personnel significantly.Therefore, it is imperative to advance studies on the identifiedresearch gaps. Besides, there is the need to further the knowledgeof the ability of the military personnel to transition to the privatesector.
(d) General Definition of the Central Phenomenon.
Retiring veterans enter a civilian world that has significantdifferences from the structured military organization. According toKing (2011), veterans have the tendency of underestimating the majorchanges that occur after retiring from the military, which entailsmore than just the change in occupation. The military men arerequired to identify their prospects and seek employment differentlyin the civilian sector. They are expected to network and create theirresumes, attend career fairs, interview, and compete for availablejob opportunities in a competitive market alongside theirtransitioning counterparts. There is a significant culturaldifference between the military and the private sector, and thetransitioning programs failed to prepare the veterans for thedifferences. Ray and Heaslip (2011) observes that the culturaldifferences between the two sectors are not unique to a particularmilitary department and neither are the challenges of the phenomenonof military transitioning abnormal to any military unit.
The current study enquires the perception on the newly designedmilitary transitioning programs held by military officers within theNCR. The study uses the phenomenological approach to capturing theofficers lived experiences as well as obtaining the officer’sdescription of such experiences. The key research questions used toguide the study include: What are the live experiences of militaryofficers expecting to retire from service within a six month to1-year period living within the NCR? Second, what are the perceivedsuccess factors of the redesigned military transformation programthat could improve the ability of military officers to transform tothe civil sector? Finally, what are the challenges perceived by theofficers on the new transition program?
(a) Theoretical or conceptual basis and origin
The conceptual framework of the current study aims at applying threetheories: the identity theory, Schlossberg’s four S theory and thework-role transition theory (Robertson & Brott, 2013).
(b) Applications of the Principles and Previously IdentifiedConcepts
Griepentrog et al. (2012), through the identity theory, observed thatindividuals form a relationship with the organizations where theywork. Therefore, they end up sharing the objectives with the firm anddisplay their loyalty to the team. Researchers use identity theoriesin evaluating how individuals within the change process identify withtheir self, the organizations or groups. It is used to provideunderstanding on the connections between people and theirprofessional roles.
The Schlossberg’s theory provides the conceptual lens used toexamine the officer`s transition process and the stages experiencedwith time. It helps to address work change processes and researchersuse it to explain the development processes (Robertson & Brott,2013).
Although current use of the theory is missing in current literature,social scientists use the work- role transition theory in identifyingthe changes that occur when individuals change from one workingenvironment to the other. Various researchers observe that peopleundergoing a work-transition process experience changes in theirroles, organization culture, and routines (Bell’s, 2015).
(c) Propositions of the Theories
Identity theories provide that role, social and organizationalcontexts are key determinants of how an individual identifies withthemselves. They also define how people connect with theirprofessional roles as well as the organizations where they work(Griepentorg et al., 2012).
The situation postulation of the Schlossberg’s theory applies inthe current study when assessing what is happening as per theperspectives of the military officers. According to the theory,individuals anticipate the change related to retirement andtherefore, it is important to understand the impact of the relatedexpectation and changes into retiree’s lives. The theory describesfour variables such as the situation behind the occurrences at thetime of transition. It also represents the self which is the changesoccurring within the individual at the date of transition. Third, itdescribes the support referring to what is available during thechange process and finally, the strategies used by the individuals tocope (Robertson & Brott, 2013).
The work role theory observes that work role transition is any changein work related status and the associated duties. The transition fromone employment environment to the other cases stress, identitychanges and behavioral consequences of adapting to a new work context(Bell’s, 2015).
(d) Relationship of the Theories to the Current Study
The Social Identity Theory contributes to the current research byproviding the context on how the officers identify with the self,organization or groups as well as their connection with theirprofessional activities. The aim is to determine how the officersadopt and adjust to norms within the civilian sector. The kind ofrelationship identified by the identity theory applies to the kind ofrelationship between the officers and the military that furtheraffects them when the time comes to leave the organization(Griepentorg et al., 2012).
The self-postulation of Schlossberg’s theory shall guide inevaluating the officers self-outlook as they transition. The supportpart enhances the evaluation of resources available to assist theofficer to transform. The strategies help in understanding thechanges in the program and identifying the ideal changes to improveeffective transitioning of the officers (Robertson & Brott,2013).
The theory of work role transition observes that changing employmententails a shift in job content. Therefore, the officers are requiredto adjust their positions and get ready for the new careers. Thethree theories provide a lens to identify the challenges experiencedby the officers during the transition process (Bell’s, 2015).
Nature of the Study
(i) Paradigm (qualitative)
The current research involves a qualitative phenomenological study.It aims to use semi-structured interviews to obtain information aboutofficers’ life experiences as they undergo through the militarytransitioning program. It will entail observing the officersbehaviors as well as asking open-ended questions and reviewing ofexisting literature. The phenomenon will help the researcher incapturing the officers` shared experiences (Manen, 2014).
(ii) Design (narrative).
The plan for the current study entails a phenomenological research.The reason behind the design is the need to obtain an in-depthcomprehension of the military officer’s life experiences during themilitary transition process (Manen, 2014).
(iii) The Rationale for the Design
The term phenomenology is tantamount to hermeneutic or interpretive–descriptive phenomenology. It aims at capturing the individualperception of participants used in a study. The design enables theresearcher to capture as well as describe the participant’sfeelings and the sense constituting the phenomenon. Therefore, thestudy design is the most appropriate for the research at hand (Manen,2014).
(iv) Why Other Methods are Ineffective
There were considerations for alternative study designs such as theintuitive, heuristic, empirical and existential approaches. However,the methods are inappropriate for the current study. The heuristicphenomenology approach entails detailing an autobiographicdescription of the participants as well as the researcher. However,various researchers have dismissed the approach as a non-humanconscious approach but an approach to pure essential consciousness(Manen, 2014).
The sample for the study includes 50 military officers. The sampleis divided into 25 males and 25 females. Besides, 21 militaryofficers are currently undergoing the process of transmission for thepast six months while 29 officers have completed the transitionprogram (Simon & Goes, 2013).
The potential participants for the current study are situated in theNCR since it is the location of all branches of the military.Besides, the NCR has a large population of veterans beginning theircivilian careers. The study will take place at a location chosen bythe participants including conference rooms, libraries or any othertype of meeting space recommended. The aim is to provide theresearcher with the room to observe the participants in their naturalsettings (Simon & Goes, 2013).
(iii) Investigator’s Role in Data Collection Procedures
The role of the researcher in the study will include interviewingthe participants, collecting and organizing data. Phenomenologicalstudies utilize semi-structured interviews as the primary methods ofdata collection. The researcher will pay attention to obtainingrelevant information regarding the officer’s perceptions of themilitary transitioning program (Simon & Goes, 2013).
1. Type of sampling. The researchwill apply purposeful sampling to identify the participants of thestudy. The aim of the sampling approach is to get hold ofparticipants in the process of retiring from the military within theranks of majors to general officers. Besides, purposeful samplingwill guide in identifying personnel in the course of transitioningfrom the Army as well as those who have already undergone the processand are already working or seeking employment within the civiliansector. The participants will volunteer for the interview activities(Manen, 2014).
2. How sampling will be drawn. The researcher will obtainguides for the participants of the study by networking with thepopulation within the NCR. The process will entail attending to jobfairs and visiting the LinkedIn profiles to obtain detaileddescriptions of the officers as per the requirements of the currentstudy (Manen, 2014).
3. Sample size and why chosen in relation to sample size. Thesample size for the present study entails 50 military officers. Theresearcher will further divide the sample into 25 males and 25females. Among the sample size, 21 military officers shall beundergoing the process of transmission for the past six months to oneyear period while 29 officers will have completed the transitionprogram. The key reason behind the sample size is to allow theresearcher ample time to conduct an in-depth data collection processwith the participants (Simon & Goes, 2013).
(v) Data Collection Procedures
The researcher will design interview questions to answer the researchquestions. There will be interview protocols detailing the place,time and date of the interview. There will be two types ofinterviews post-transition interviews for veterans already in thecivilian sector and pre-transition interviews for officers within thetransition process for six months to one year (Simon & Goes,2013).
The meetings will last for 30 to 60 minutes consisting of questionsgathering information on gender, age and the tenure at the military.Additional data collection devices will include digital voicerecorders for recording interview conversations. The researcher willuse a camera for capturing the participant’s site location.Discussions will include face-to-face interviews with theparticipants (Simon & Goes, 2013).
(vi) Data Analysis and Interpretation Plan. The interviewprotocol and a journal used for recording field notes will help inmanaging data. Creating sense out of notes on the ground and verbatimtranscripts will include developing a coding scheme to identify,categorize and label the various patterns of evidence. The researcherwill use Vivo codes to aid in identifying similar phrases and wordsfor categorization. The classified data will further be segmentedinto interviews and observation. Through Nvivo, the researcher willcompare and contrast officer’s responses to the interviewquestions. Axial coding will enhance the researcher`s ability toreexamine and combine categories initially identified during the opencoding operations as a strategy to determine the connections of anynew data. Afterward, the researcher will build a conceptual model andevaluate the sufficiency of data to support the interpretations(Simon & Goes, 2013).
(i) Potential design and methodological weakness.The current study aims at exploring the transition of militaryofficers through the transition program. Therefore, the results fromthe study should not be generalized to a larger population ofmilitary officers. Instead, the results only apply to officers whosetransition process occurred within the NCR. Reliability of the studyis a significant source of limitation due to the phenomenologicaldesign and the sample size. The second limitation of the survey isthe credibility of the survey results to a different context (Simon &Goes, 2013).
(ii) How to address the weakness. Theresearcher aims to conduct a thorough audit trail through Nvivo.Besides, triangulation of the data will help in validating thefindings from the study.
Regarding credibility, the researcher aims at utilizing variousvalidation techniques such as researcher bias, member checks and peerreviews to ensure that the data is trustworthy. Member checking willinvolve providing a transcribed version of recorded interviews withthe participants to verify the accuracy of the responses (Maxwell,2013).
(iii) Threats to quality and how to address them.The results of the proposed study are subject to issues ontransferability and dependability. Transferability affects theability of qualitative research to being applied within a differentcontext while maintaining the meaning of completed research. Theresearcher aims to control the threat by obtaining intensely detaileddescriptions, research approaches and details such as the directquotes of the participants (Maxwell, 2013).
(d) Ethical concerns
The researcher aims to maintain high levels of ethics during thestudy. First, the researcher aims at consulting with the WisconsinUniversity Institutional Review Board (IRB) to ensure that the studyconforms to the ethical standards of the state and the institution.Institution Review Boards assist researchers in protecting the rightsof the participants by considering various ethical principles such asconfidentiality, harm, respect for persons and privacy (Patton,2015).
The study will observe informed consent procedures through a consentform informing participants on the nature of information requiredfrom them. It will also provide information on the purpose ofcollecting the information, the questions in the interview and ashort discussion on how the researcher would process the responses.Besides, the officers will be informed that the choice to participatein the study is voluntary (Patton, 2015).
Significance of the Study
(a) Practical Contributions of the Study
The findings from the study are expected to guide in theimplementation of a more efficient military transition program.Specifically, the aim of the survey is to identify the perspective ofthe officers on the critical factors to inform the redesign of themilitary transition program (McAllister et al., 2015).
(b) For Whom the Study Is Important
First, the study shall provide insights to the leaders in theDepartment of Defense. The results will outline on how they canimprove the MTP in a manner that adequately addresses the problemsfaced by transitioning officers when integrating with the civilianworkforce. Besides, it shall add to the existing literature on theprocess of veteran transition processes. Therefore, it poses futurebenefits for scholars interested in job stress and identity strainsassociated with the transition of military officers (McAllister etal., 2015).
Second, the results of the study will help the transition counselorsworking with the officers during the transition process.Specifically, it will enable the instructors in gauging the officer’semotions and readiness to move from the military community to theprivate sector (McAllister et al., 2015).
c. Implications for social change
The study shall contribute by identifying suggestions for positivesocial change and the officer’s most desired assistance from themilitary transition program. Besides, the results aim at informingthe various theories of social change such as the identity,transition and work role transition theories. It shall also add tothe current body of knowledge on how to address the issue of militarytransition by providing results on descriptions and perceptions madeby transitioning officers (McAllister et al., 2015).
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