top of page


Throughout the United States, there are excellent research centers at universities dedicated to such topics as entrepreneurship among veterans, understanding the mental health challenges of veterans, and aiding military veterans and their families. And 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.


Relevant issues center on how veterans experience and adjust to the civilian workforce and the educational settings that facilitate this transition compared to the military, the way society and managers (that control hiring and promotion) view veterans, and, importantly, the interaction of these. Some initial funds to Duke University, through gifts from Microsoft and Amazon Military Affairs organizations has supported research on these topics.


Published Work


Stanley, M. L., Shepherd, S., & Kay, A. C.


Heroization and ironic funneling effects. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

Journal of Personality and Social Psychology

Advance online publication


Kay, A. C., & Gibbs, W. C. (2022).


Inequality, military veteran transitions, and beyond: Compensatory control theory and its application to real world social justice problems.

Social Justice Research

35(1), 56-61.


Shepherd, S., Sherman, D. K., MacLean A., & Kay, A. C.


The challenges of military veterans in their transition to the workplace: A call for integrating basic and applied psychological science. Perspectives on Psychological Science.

Perspectives on Psychological Science

16(3), 590-613.


Shepherd, S., Kay, A. C., & Gray, K.


Military veterans are morally typecast as agentic but unfeeling: Implications for veteran employment. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes

Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes

153, 75-88.

Toy Brain

Dive Deeper

Our research informs recommendations for interventions that would yield improved outcomes for veteran transition success.


Using the methodological tools of social psychology, organizational behavior and related disciplines, the VTRL seeks to answer a range of questions related to the veteran transition experience. These include (but are not limited to):

Topics of Inquiry


Veteran Encounters

How do common first encounters – phone screen, job fair, mentoring, preparedness via transition programs – affect underemployment, confidence and resilience in job seeking?


Underemployment Outcomes

What are the impacts of underemployment outcomes on self-esteem and confidence?


Vet-Spouse Employment

What are the impacts of spouse employment stability in veteran job hunt success?


Underemployment Triggers

What are the conditions that lead to underemployment and interventions to head this off?


BIPOC Challenges

What are the unique challenges for African American veterans, Latinx veterans, female veterans, and partners or spouses of veterans?


Communication Strategy

How can organizations more effectively communicate to veterans that their organizations are sincere in valuing their contributions?


Organizational Intervention

What type of interventions can increase veterans’ retention and successful contribution at organizations and in upper management?


Veteran Belongingness

What common factors influence veterans’ feeling of belongingness and fit in civilian organizations – corporations, universities, and government?


Stereotypes of Veterans

What are the stereotypes people hold of veterans and how can organizations, researchers, and the military itself best understand these stereotypes, reduce their use and impact, and bridge
the military–citizen divide?

bottom of page