Improving transition and employment outcomes for junior enlisted service members


Veterans are returning to civilian life with diverse skills and tremendous potential, but many experience hardships transitioning from the military to civilian life. Young veterans, in particular, experience the worst transitional outcomes of any veteran subpopulation.

Nearly seven years of supporting post 9/11 veterans have allowed us to harness the knowledge, network and insights of our partnerships and investments to identify three priorities designed to improve outcomes for young veterans who have selflessly served our country, including:

  • Training support, career guidance and job placements aligned with the needs of junior enlisted service members because a one-size-fits-all approach to military transition often results in the most vulnerable falling through the cracks.
  • Deploying coordinated hubs at the point of transition connecting young veterans, who often don’t tap into available services, to the veteran support organizations best equipped to meet their needs.
  • Investing in research, advocacy and evaluation to highlight the challenges facing junior enlisted veterans and emerging best practices. By concentrating our efforts to support the 50% of transitioning service members who are junior enlisted, we strive to make sure no one falls behind.

Junior enlisted were the least likely segment to have a job lined up before transition at 21% when compared with other segments such as officers who are more than twice as likely to have jobs lined up at 46%.

Veterans from the junior enlisted paygrades were less likely to use online job databases, career fairs, resume writing assistance, job placement, career counseling, and training or certification programs than more senior enlisted paygrades or officers.

One-third of veterans from the junior-enlisted ranks report precarious financial status and 44% say they are at risk financially. Only 23% report have a secure financial situation.


Onward to Opportunity
Junior Enlisted
Onward to Opportunity

Having a job lined up before leaving the military is one of the most effective ways to ensure a smooth transition back into civilian life. We worked with the Institute for Veteran and Military Families (IVMF) and the Department of Defense to create “Onward to Opportunity,” a free, on-base training and hiring program, open to active service members, veterans, and military spouses.


Onward to Opportunity initiative impact to date:

  • $50 million unemployment cost savings
  • 15,000+ veterans trained
  • 12,000+ veterans hired
  • 20,000 certifications granted
  • Currently active on 18 military installations, enrolling more than 8,000 participants annually
Junior Enlisted

In recognition of the unique challenges facing young veterans, the Schultz Family Foundation invested $7 million in four veteran service organizations designed to improve employment outcomes for this subpopulation. Three of the grants will create an integrated system that will support 10,000 junior enlisted veterans from transition to employment and ultimately offer best practices to scale the initiative to serve thousands more. The fourth grant will provide support to tailor training curricula to meet the specific needs of young veterans and introduce new and relevant learning pathways aligned to the career goals of junior enlisted service members.


Through early intervention, strong partnerships, and internal programs, Hire Heroes USA provides employment support to actively transitioning junior enlisted and young veterans. This partnership will allow them to continue to increase young veterans’ career readiness while empowering them to obtain jobs that meet their financial needs and professional goals. is expanding its focus on junior enlisted and the young veteran population using its proven job placement delivery model. helps junior enlisted transitioning service members identify a career path, connect how their skills and qualifications apply to their chosen career path, present gaps in skills and qualifications, and assist with job placement.

The USO’s Pathfinder Transition Program focuses on assisting junior enlisted service members as they navigate the initial stages of their transition from the military to civilian life. The program engages and tracks outcomes for target populations at scale and expands its current network of partnerships. Additionally, collaborations with third-party evaluation partners amplify and advocate the consolidated data insights, impact, and key takeaways of our integrated veterans grants common data structure.

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