As women who served in the armed forces transition from military to civilian life, some differences between the new veterans and their nonveteran counterparts exist. In some cases, these differences may linger for some time as they age. This segment of veterans is one of the highest priority groups of interest of both the Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Labor.1 Female veterans are a small subpopulation of both veterans and civilian women as a whole, making them an often under-studied population. In 2015, 1.6 million women were veterans of the armed forces. They accounted for 8.4 percent of the total veteran population and 1.2 percent of the total adult female population. Eighty-two percent of all female veterans were of working-age (18 to 64 years old), compared with 79.0 percent of all nonveteran women.
This brief examines the transition of female veterans from the military to civilian life. As there is no perfect measure of this transition, nor perfect data that align to the life course of veterans, this analysis uses three different age snapshots as career proxies to determine if female veterans are different from nonveterans throughout their working ages, or if the differences are more prominent at the early stage of the transition from military to civilian life. The data used in this brief are from the 2015 American Community Survey (ACS) 1-year estimates and represent the civilian population of women 18 to 64 years old living in the United States.
The ACS does not have a measure of years of work experience, therefore age is being used as a proxy in this brief. Women are categorized by age groups that correspond with approximate career stages. Women between the ages of 18 to 34 were considered early-career, those between the ages of 35 to 44 were mid-career, and those 45 to 64 years old were late-career.
1 For more information about Department of Veterans Affairs, see <www.womenshealth.va.gov/WOMENSHEALTH/programoverview/strategic_priorities.asp> and for more information about Department of Labor, see <www.dol.gov/vets/womenveterans/>.