Last Friday’s post, “Hair & Transition,” produced an interesting discussion on one of the LinkedIn groups I belong to. Another member commented that substantial research had been conducted on the cultural transition out of military service and into civilian life, back in the ‘90s. My internal response was, basically, “And then what?” I am unaware of evidence that this work, conducted by behavioral scientists, has been put to work in the service of helping people. Years later, the same transition challenges I first studied in 2000 persist today.
Over the last few days, I have found myself thinking about this quite a bit. My admittedly emotional response is annoyance and even anger. So many individual careers have been stalled or derailed due to the very cultural challenges identified in these earlier studies, attributed to DoD behavioral scientists.
I have an MS in applied behavioral science and one of the most compelling reason for entering the field is the value it places (and I share) on putting discoveries to good use in the real world. It strikes me that the previous research missed the “applied” part, perhaps in place of a purist behavioral approach. In other words, studying behavior for the sake of understanding it, not necessarily moving from insight to action.
As one who has spent the last 15 years working one-to-one with transitioning service members, helping them to quickly adjust to civilian work life and thrive there, I am really disappointed by what looks to me like a missed opportunity to use good research to do real good.
If anyone reading this is aware of resources, programs or initiatives that came out of the DoD research, please respond. Further, if such tools existed at one point, what happened to them? Where did they go?
I look forward to your thoughts on this!