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We're on a mission: Conducting, inspiring, and communicating transformative research that seeks to illuminate the unique challenges military veterans face when transitioning to the civilian workforce, and leveraging this research to affect meaningful policy and corporate structural changes to support positive employment outcomes for veterans.

 Improved employment outcomes for military veterans and their families

While there is a large body of research on the clinical and health outcomes that veterans experience, what is missing in the social sciences is research understanding the basic social and psychological processes that influence veterans’ ability to thrive in their post-military occupational lives. 

Recognizing this, the Veteran's Transition Research Initiative was set up in 2021. After over a year of research and collaboration with industry, government agencies, and other academic institutions, one thing became increasingly evident — the initiative was evolving. The ecosystem grew with passionate individuals who wanted to act in the name of veteran success. 

In 2023, the Veteran Transition Research Initiative became the Veteran Transition Research Lab (VTRL), and with this new title, we hone in on creating a platform for cutting-edge theory and transformative research to guide our practice as we aim to affect meaningful policy for years to come. 


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I’m grateful to see researchers at top academic institutions help explain why so many veterans are underemployed through the Veteran Transitions Research Lab. We owe it to our women and men who have served our country to do better by them once they leave the military.
Coach Mike Krzyzewski

Leading the Charge

Our team is comprised of esteemed professors, industry executives, PhD students and postdoctoral researchers who have dedicated themselves to the cause. While our backgrounds are diverse our mission is the same. 

Aaron C. Kay PhD


David K. Sherman PhD


Sean Kelley


Driving Goals




The VTRL research team, led by Professor Aaron C. Kay, PhD, Duke University, and Professor David Sherman, PhD, University of California, Santa Barbara (bio appended), will form an Academic advisory committee to establish partnerships and information sharing with other universities engaged in Veteran research including Duke University, Pennsylvania State University, USC, UCSB, Columbia University, and Syracuse University.

Establishing a fully engaged ecosystem of research, which will encourage other leaders in the field to launch investigations of this topic using their unique expertise. This would be accomplished by awarding up to ten of the most compelling research proposals seed grants through a research pitch competition held at our annual summit.

Establishment of the Industry Advocacy and Change Leadership Committee, which will work to enable theory to practice applications of research to drive meaningful change across industry and through government agencies via policy advocacy. The Committee will be led and chaired by an Executive-in-Residence at Duke’s Fuqua School, Sean Kelley, and will be made up of a group of corporate military affairs leaders, veteran-servicing organizations (VSO), and government leaders involved in transition services. This advisory committee would meet on a recurring cadence to drive actions and meet with the Academic leaders at an Annual Advocacy and Change Leadership Summit, hosted at Duke University, to distill academic learnings into action plans for the next year. Additional focus areas of the Committee will be:

  1. To engage with prominent HR organizations, conferences and publications such as the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and LinkedIn Talent Connect, to drive awareness and engagement in change efforts.

  2. The press team would actively promote the published work via mainstream and military press channels.

  3. The Committee will consider research being completed at partner Universities for potential input into action planning for policy advocacy and change leadership.


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"We should support academic research to help define and explain the real value of veterans in business and to address some of the unconscious bias that can sometimes disadvantage them in the hiring process"

Martin E. Dempsey, U.S. Army, Ret.

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