Date of Award

Fall 12-13-2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Organizational Leadership

First Advisor

Philip O. Pendley

Second Advisor

Linda Williams

Third Advisor

Webster Nicholson


Purpose: The purpose of this phenomenological study was to explore the lived experiences of Navy and Marine Corps veterans who have transitioned to the civilian workforce in San Diego County, California since the 2011 draw-down of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom with respect to personal, mental health, cultural/societal, and organizational support and barriers.

Methodology: This phenomenological, qualitative study identified and interviewed six U.S. Navy veterans and six U.S. Marine Corps veterans who have transitioned from active duty military service to the civilian workforce. The participants were purposefully and conveniently selected based on specific criteria.

Findings: After the analyzing, coding, and theme portion of the study, six major findings were yielded. The major findings of the study are: (a) Veterans can benefit from networking and building relationships, (b) It is extremely important to prepare for transition early, (c) Keep an open-mind and have realistic expectations, (d) Ensure to seek support and guidance from your leadership, (e) Stay positive and make adjusting to civilian culture a priority, and (f) Complete your VA compensation and pension exam and utilize your benefits.

Conclusion: Based on the findings of this study, it is concluded that keeping a positive attitude, taking full advantage of all transition resources, and building networks/ relationships within the civilian industry is vital to a veteran’s successful transition to the civilian workforce.

Recommendations: It is recommended that future studies be conducted on the successful active duty to civilian workforce transition in other major cities and counties across America. The current study focused on San Diego, County and only considered U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps veterans. Other studies should focus not only on the Navy and Marine Corps, but the Army, Air Force, and Coast Guard.