Date of Conferral
Public Policy and Administration
Gulf-War-era-II combat veterans have made professional contributions to the civilian workforce since returning from Iraq and Afghanistan combat operations. Service members in California encounter transition issues related to employment and adjusting their self-identity in the civilian employment culture. These complexities have led to career problems. Using Peterson, Sampson, Reardon, and Lenz's theory of cognitive information processing and Mincer & Becker's theory of human capital, the purpose of this phenomenological study was designed to provide a holistic account of the lived experiences of 11 Gulf War era II veterans who have successfully integrated into civilian employment with a focus on mitigating factors and decision making processes. Purposeful sampling and semistructured interviews were completed with Los Angeles Gulf-War-era-II veterans employed as civilians for more than 1 year. Data collected were analyzed using the Stevick-Colazzi-Keen method. Five themes emerged from the data represented the transitional experiences of the participant veterans': (a) presence of self-validating values, (b) love of country and social responsibility, (c) importance of veteran networking and social support, (d) continued self-improvement, and (e) self-awareness to adapt to decision-making skills required in civilian employment. The findings identified the phenomenon that veterans evolved personally and professionally after securing meaningful civilian jobs and continued to adapt using career problem solving. This study contributes to the positive social change by aggregating resources for employment stability for veterans, increasing dialogue regarding veteran career transitions, and increasing awareness of veteran human capital values in civilian employment.