Career Development for Transitioning Veterans
Book Review by Tracy Capozzoli
Career Development for Transitioning Veterans. Author/Editor: Carmen Stein-McCormick, Debra S. Osborn, Seth C.W. Hayden, Dan Van Hoose with Military Consultants: Thomas McCormick, USN (Ret.), Major C. Camille LaDrew, USAF
Publisher: NCDA, 2013
The opening statement of this monograph reports that “the veteran population will decrease from 22.7 million in 2010 to about 14 million by 2035,” (p. v) leaving roughly 8 million individuals seeking a successful career transition. The probability of these persons appearing in the caseloads of career services practitioners is likely to increase. Within the past 18 months this reviewer’s caseload in working with transitioning service members has increased from 2 or 3 clients a month to averaging more than 10. Career services practitioners will benefit in educating themselves on the needs specific to veterans transitioning from military to civilian life. This NCDA monograph brings to light these exact concerns and is an excellent place to start for those interested in working with veterans, as well as those currently providing services.
Summary of the Monograph
The authors’ purpose is to increase career services practitioners’ awareness of veterans’ career transition issues and concerns through descriptions of programs and resources utilized through research and case studies. Chapters 1 through 4 focus on information and resources, while chapters 5 and 6 discuss applied applications and techniques through multiple case study reviews. The findings and discussions from this monograph are applicable and beneficial in many environments where services are provided to this population including private practice, individual and group settings, distance modalities, and higher education institutions.
Chapter 1 discusses a generalized image of a veteran, as well as career and employment concerns specific to them. The authors’ noted that the common picture of a veteran is someone 55 years or older, non-Hispanic, white, male, married, has no dependent children and has some college credit. These generalized images do not account for female veterans, veterans separated through medical board decisions due to injuries and disabilities, or transitioning active duty personnel, National Guard, and reserves. This reviewer has found these latter clients present themselves much differently. Career service practitioners might best serve this population by creating subgroups within this VA population (veteran, current active duty personnel, guard and reserve personnel, women warriors) and become aware of specific needs and barriers associated with each subgroup.
Chapters 2 and 3 use multiple case studies to focus on life transition concerns of veterans. The authors’ application of Schlossberg’s 4-S transition model and cognitive information processing (CIP) theory allow for veteran ownership, creativity, and goal-oriented counseling to occur. Tangibility in terms of seeing and achieving stated goals is necessary for this population in maintaining their motivation throughout the process. This reviewer has found most of her clientele, male and female, have the Realistic (R) type in their Holland codes. The need for clearly stated goals and activities is important because it taps into the veteran’s preference for tangibility as well as experience with military operational planning and execution. The case study of “Monica”, is discussed in Chapter 3, addresses the interventions that were used with “Monica” to assist her through this transition. This case study focused on CIP theory and interventions/applications generally used in the theory. Values Card Sorts were utilized and I found this discussion helpful.
Chapter 4 specifically addresses career development concerns for veterans with disabilities and Chapter 5 is a compilation of six case studies. The authors do an excellent job in creating a conversation chart representing the overall case for each veteran. It allows the reader to “sit in” on the sessions and understand how the counseling progressed, as well as why the counselor did or did not utilize certain techniques.
Chapter 6 discusses a specific career intervention utilized with veterans, an undergraduate career development course. In evaluating the course, students indicated more benefit from a structured environment; small group discussion with practical, real world application in terms of assignments (e.g., resume construction, elevator speeches, mock interviews); and the instructor being a military veteran. Having actual transitional experience allows the veteran to visualize making this transition, tapping into the need for concrete practicality. The course is now offered as a leadership course and taught by the director of the veterans’ services office.
The appendices included in this monograph are detailed, informative, and an excellent resource referral for any career services practitioners working with this population. This reviewer found Appendix C (Military-Related Websites) to be most beneficial and a go-to document for a listing of resources. These websites ranged from branch specific transition assistance programs (TAP) to healthcare/VA benefits to employment/job search sites.
Comments about the Monograph
The authors do an excellent job of achieving the purpose of the monograph – “to increase career practitioners’ awareness of the transition issues and resources specific to veterans and to provide several examples of how a practitioner might work” (p. v). This reviewer found the educational information and research helpful in creating a visual image of a veteran, as well as providing and discussing practical applications and techniques.
However, career development and transition concerns are not limited to already separated veterans. Most current transitioning military personnel have similar concerns. Their career transitions questions are generally addressed through their branch specific TAP programs. These programs offer assistance in large group settings where individualized attention, review/research, and discussion are not typically included. The age range of the participants, military experience, and military occupational specialties (MOS) also vary. Providing individualized services addressing this transition and the career development process is extremely beneficial for currently separating personnel.
The majority of this reviewer’s current clientele falls into this category of persons needing individualized assistance, and these clients often want to begin services two or more years before separating from the military service. The reasons why transitioning personnel seek out individualized services are varied and unique. It is especially important for career services practitioners working near large military installations need to become aware of the specific needs of male and female transitioning veterans in the local area. This work may be just as beneficial and can assist in creating a smoother transition into civilian life.
The book, Career Development for Transitioning Veterans, is available in the NCDA Career Resource Store.
Tracy Capozzoli, MS/EdS, has been providing career counseling and transition services to veterans, disabled veterans, retirees, active-duty transitioning military personnel, and military spouse dependents since 2000. Ms. Capozzoli is also experienced in developing online and distance modality career counseling programs specifically for military dependents. She is currently providing services to Special Forces military personnel as they move through the career transition process. She can be reached at email@example.com.