Featured Articles
India Worthy
/ Categories: Items of Interest

SIOP Congressional Briefing

Stephany Schings Below, Communications Manager, and Laura Uttley, Lewis-Burke

The Science of Recruiting, Hiring, and Training Veterans for the Civilian Workforce

The Department of Veterans Affairs estimates nearly 200,000 service men and women transition out of the military each year, and the trend is expected to continue for the next 4 years.

SIOP hosted a congressional briefing August 6 to address the role I-O psychologists can play in helping to integrate returning vets back into the workforce.


The Science of Recruiting, Hiring, and Training Veterans for the Civilian Workforce” featured panelists Dan Putka, principal staff scientist at Human Resources Research Organization (HumRRO), and Kristin Saboe, research psychologist in the U.S. Army at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR) in the Center for Military Psychiatry and Neuroscience. Lorin Mueller, managing director of Assessment at the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT), moderated the panel. (Read the one-page briefinghere or the entire PowerPoint presentation here. To read the speaker biographies, click here.)

Congressional and federal policy makers routinely grapple with how to appropriately support the employment and workforce needs of the growing veteran population as the nation, as a whole, struggles with unemployment and underemployment. Programs through the Department of Defense, individual service branches, and the Department of Veterans Affairs, in addition to those created by nonprofit and private-sector organizations, seek to offer resources to veterans to facilitate their transition into the civilian workforce and translate their military skills into civilian practice.


The “Science of Recruiting, Hiring, and Training Veterans for the Civilian Workforce” briefing provided an overview of the field of industrial and organizational psychology and highlighted its applications for transitioning veterans into the civilian workforce for federal and congressional policy makers, as well as members of the science community. 

Putka underscored that I-O psychology is extremely relevant because I-O psychologists conduct scientific research on effective human capital management and offer evidence-based practices to better meet employee’s needs, improving overall employee satisfaction and productivity.

He explained veterans are a unique group of employees that sometimes require tailored job coaching and hiring practices. In their transition to the civilian workforce, he suggested that veterans (and organizations) have a hard time articulating the applications of military skills to civilian jobs, struggle to assess a veteran’s “fit” for an organization, and fail to see easy methods to fill gaps between veterans’ current skills and the skills required for a civilian job.

In regard to these challenges, I-O psychology can connect military job skills to civilian job skills, scientifically inform assessments and metrics for a comprehensive evaluation of a veteran’s qualifications for, and promote effective hiring and training practices that provide veterans with, any skills sets they need to acquire to maximize their performance.


In focusing her remarks on veterans programs, Saboe discussed the Veteran’s Transition Initiative, a pilot program first introduced in 2011 that provides vocational coaching to transition veterans to the civilian workforce.

Saboe underscored the culture differences between civilian work and military work. For example, she acknowledged that in the civilian workforce, it is important for an individual to sell themselves and their skills; however, in the military, soldiers are assigned jobs.

Based on evaluations of the initiative, Saboe echoed Putka’s remarks that it is important for policy makers to recognize veterans require help to directly translate their military experience, undergo the cultural transition, and become motivated to seek out job opportunities. She advocated that with its expertise in job analyses, hiring practices, workforce culture, and motivation research, I-O psychology can facilitate a smooth transition.

Congressional staff were especially  interested in the role of nonprofit organizations in helping veterans to find civilian jobs, the importance of career counseling, and programs that support military families in the transition to civilian life. 

The House and Senate Veterans Affairs Committees, as well as other federal policy makers, continue to hold hearings and policy discussions on how to transition veterans from military service to the civilian workforce.  In addition, these congressional and federal policy makers continue to seek solutions for workforce issues, including unemployment and underemployment, which impact Americans across the country. 

SIOP remains active in responding to and proactively addressing these issues of national concern, highlighting the applications and importance of I-O psychology research and science in policy decisions.

To learn more about SIOP’s advocacy efforts and work with Lewis-Burke, read:


Previous Article New Year, New Workplace!
Next Article SIOP Congressional Briefing
3238 Rate this article:
No rating
Comments are only visible to subscribers.


Information on this website, including articles, white papers, and other resources, is provided by SIOP staff and members. We do not include third-party content on our website or in our publications, except in rare exceptions such as paid partnerships.