Bartee, Robert Lee (2018-03). A Phenomenological Study of African American Veterans' Experiences as they Transition to Civilian Life using the Transition Goals, Plans, Success (GPS) Program. Doctoral Dissertation. Thesis uri icon


  • Increased deployments to combat operation areas have resulted in veterans transitioning from the military in more significant numbers. Likewise, African American veterans are also leaving the military in more significant numbers. Transition assistance training is necessary to prepare these veterans for higher education and civilian employment since these areas impact the successful transition of veterans. Moreover, higher education improves African American veterans' socioeconomic status and helps them to gain meaningful employment. Unfortunately, several research studies noted African American veterans were not using their educational benefits at the same rates as other veterans. This study aims to better understand the transition experiences of African American veterans, their participation in the Transition Goals, Plans, Success Program, and the challenges they face obtaining employment and higher education after military service. Hermeneutic phenomenology guided this study to help understand the lived experiences of the participants. The participants for this study were six African American veterans who served in the United States Army, Navy, Air Force, and Army National Guard. Each participant served in their respective branch of the military for 20 years or more. Each participant was interviewed once face-to-face using semi-structured interviews. Veterans in this study highlighted the challenges they faced during their transition from the military to civilian life. They also acknowledged higher education's impact on meaningful employment and the importance of higher education. Participants acknowledged their fears as they transitioned out of the military and understood the need to develop coping strategies to handle their concerns. The themes that emerged are representative of the participants' life experiences, military transition experiences, and demonstrates higher education's role in a successful transition. The participants expressed the importance of family during their transitions, but they need help to better understand civilian careers and employment before leaving the military. Furthermore, African American veterans need career counseling to help them to understand their transition experiences and help to prepare an adequate resume that translates their military skills to a civilian job match. Career development and training development for these veterans will also improve their transition success and employability.

publication date

  • May 2018