Date of Award

May 2017

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Urban Education

First Advisor

Barbara Bales

Committee Members

Cheryl Baldwin, Romila Singh, Rajeswari Swaminathan, Alfonzo Thurman

Keywords

Civilian Workplace, National Guard, Phenomenology, Post-9/11 Military Veteran, Reserves, Transition

Abstract

ABSTRACT

BUILDING BRIDGES OVER TROUBLED WATERS:

A PHENOMENOLOGICAL STUDY OF

POST-9/11 NATIONAL GUARD AND RESERVE MILITARY VETERANS

TRANSITIONING TO THE CIVILIAN WORKPLACE

by

Jean Marie Pyzyk

The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 2017

Under the Supervision of Professor Barbara Bales, Ph.D.

This qualitative, phenomenological study examined the lived experiences of 25 National Guard members and reservists representing the United States Air Force, Army, Navy and Marine Corps returning to civilian careers following a post-9/11 deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan. The research question asked: What are the lived experiences of post-9/11National Guard and Reserve military veterans as they transition back to the civilian workplace? The literature review revealed numerous studies focused on active duty military personnel transitioning out of the military and seeking civilian employment, but few studies were found regarding National Guard members and reservists serving in a post-9/11 deployment for over 90 days and returning to their civilian jobs — citizen soldiers. The transition experiences of these members are the focus in this study. Interview questions were designed based on Schlossberg’s 4-S model and Bridges’s transition theory. Six themes emerged from the analysis of this data offering insights on the experiences of these citizen-soldiers: (1) Getting to the core of what matters most and what is valued, (2) adjusting to the civilian workplace, (3) united in education: insider perspectives on Department of Defense workshops, (4) to have, or not to have, transition support, (5) wrestling with a new normal, and (6) transferring military skills to the civilian workplace: hiring our heroes. Recommendations for future research are to examine the curriculum and design of Department of Defense transition workshops, continuing and adult education for recruiting and retaining military veterans in the civilian workplace, and adult leadership programs for military-connected college students.